In Knowmad Society, we noted that 45% of the workforce is trending to become knowmadic by the year 2020 — the freelancers, neo-nomads, self-employed, 1099 workers, contingent workers, contractors, etc. The Wall Street Journalpublished a story on a report by MBO Partners, a back-office support company for independent workers, with some interesting figures on the 17 million knowmadic workers in the US:
For the first time in three years of commissioning the annual survey, MBO found that Gen Xers—those from 34 to 49 years of age—comprise 36% of the independent workforce, the highest share of all age groups. The rest are baby boomers (33%, 50-67), millennials (20%, ages 21-34) and matures (11%, 68 and older). These so-called independents are just as likely to be male as female.
Also, of interest in the WSJ article: “One in seven workers polled by MBO said their decision to freelance came down to factors beyond their control.” And:
Sixty-four percent of independents rated their career satisfaction as 8 to 10 on a 10-point scale. That’s far better than the 30% of Americans overall who report being excited about their jobs, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Continuing a tradition started in years past, I list out my predictions for the key stories that will rock the education world in 2011. If I could put it into five words, 2011 will be all about mobile, mobile, change, change, and mobile. This next year, I’m looking more at the big picture:
2011 will be the Year of the Tablet, but schools still will not know what to do with them. Let’s face it, technology companies do not quite know what tablets are good for, either. Rather than provide consumers with details on the iPad, Apple called it “amazing” and “magical” at its launch — but what does it do? Tie it in with the unfortunate reality that schools lag behind in technology leadership (they generally need others to tell them what to use), my fear is that we will end up with a lot of schools buying into the tablet craze but having no idea what to do with them. 2011 will be the year that we start to look for real leadership for educational technologies, and start to look into using new technologies to do “amazing” and “magical” things.
Accelerating adoption of iPads, iPhones and other mobile technologies into social and cultural frameworks is transforming computing into an ambient experience — that is, immediate and purposive access to ICTs is available anywhere and anytime. Just as 2010 saw shifts in culture where it is no longer socially awkward to check into FourSquare or Facebook while on a date, 2011 will see the social and cultural acceptance and embracing of ambient computing continue.
The New Normal: The recession is officially over, but many people are left unemployed or significantly underemployed. This human capital crisis needs to be dealt with promptly as people who thought they could live a middle-class lifestyle with old economy jobs (i.e., manufacturing and retail) are now considered as obsolete and unemployable. The challenge for educators and governments is to help them retrain for relevant career pathways — or, enable them to create new, innovative jobs that have not existed before. This new recognition of the importance of life-long learning and human capital development could launch a “Manhattan Project” equivalent in education that will transform our generation.
We’re not out of the woods, yet. The principle of accelerating technological change prompts social change, which requires new technological transformations, and so forth. We are slowly recognizing that the only constant is change, and many industries will experience increasingly rapid cycles of transformation — for humans that are ill-prepared for change, this could mean more socioeconomic turmoil and unemployment. 2011 will give us a taste of what’s to come.
People are mobile, too. Rapid developments in mobile technologies also enable society to become much more mobile, and we will see this reflected in the workforce, of which the leading edges will exhibit Knowmadic qualities. 2011 may not yet be the year of the Knowmad, but it could be the year that individuals wake up and realize they have options. For countries like the U.S. that are obsessed with controlling immigration, how would they respond when their best and brightest (especially our most competent educators) begin to migrate elsewhere? Will anybody be left around to turn off the lights?
As we are hard at work on getting everything in the Invisible Learning book finalized, it’s been quiet at the Education Futures website — but, believe us, you will be hearing a lot more soon. Here are a couple quick updates from elsewhere that focus on the changing nature of work and the importance of creative human capital:
The Deloitte Center for the Edge released it’s 2010 shift index, authored by John Hagel, John Seely Brown, Duleesha Kulasooriya, and Dan Ebert. They synthesized the work of Richard Florida and others, and noted transformations in the talented work force — they are moving to more creative cities, and they are also migrating to companies that value their presence. Moreover, the “creative class is capturing an increasingly larger share of the economic pie” (p. 126).
In regard to the recent Gartner report, Watchlist: Continuing Changes in the Nature of Work, 2010-2020, Abhijit Kadle summarizes that “Gartner points out that the world of work will probably witness ten major changes in the next ten years. Interesting in that it will change how learning happens in the workplace as well. The eLearning industry will need to account for the coming change and have a strategy in place to deal with the changes.” For a summary of the ten points, see Abhijit’s blog post.
Finally, the Knowmads in the Netherlands are accepting applications to join their next tribe. They’re looking for motivated people that want to make a difference. Are you one of them?