Thinking and your future

Your ways of thinking could affect the rest of your life

Daniel Pink is a commentator and author on social, economic and cultural trends. Earlier, he was a White House speechwriter. His book,  A Whole New Mind, is important to all students. He is predicting your future.

In this book, he creates a list describing the past three centuries and the current one. The first three are familiar. The fourth came as a surprise to me.  p. 49

I have changed the format but not the information.

The 18th Century:     The Agricultural Age        We are farmers.

The 19th Century:     The Industrial Age            We are factory workers.

The 20th Century:     The Information Age        We are knowledge workers.

The 21st Century:     The Conceptual Age        We are creators and empathizers.

Each transition from one age to another, from one kind of worker to another, has been difficult. The farmers with small, family farms could not compete with the large, mechanized farms. They sold out or lost their farms to the bank and moved to cities, looking for factory jobs. The farmers had to learn new skills but this wasn’t that difficult. Factory workers did not need a college education.

We have heard about their situation but the factory workers are still suffering. Many are now jobless because the factories, like major auto makers, are mechanized and have moved factories either to another state or another country where wages are much less.

The new jobs as knowledge workers involved technology. The factory workers do not have the education necessary for such work. But, even as the factory workers are unemployable without skills needed today, the knowledge workers are beginning to experience a similar problem as many of these jobs are outsourced to other countries.

Pink’s book describes the current transition. He describes four young workers in Mumbai, India: “Srividya, Lalit, Kavita and Kamal”. They all have degrees either in engineering or computer science. They “work for a large software company, helping to write computer code for North American banks and airlines… None of these four people earns more that about $15,000 a year.” p. 16

We hear about all the jobs going overseas, but rarely think it will affect our futures. My husband and I frequently speak to someone in India or the Philippines about our computer or other high-tech problems. Nearly always, they speak excellent English and are extremely helpful in solving out problems.

Pink’s book makes it clear why our companies move these jobs overseas. ” In the United States, a typical aerospace engineer earns about $6,000 each month; in Russia, his monthly salary is closer to $650. While an accountant in the United States can earn $5,000 a month, an accountant in the Philippines brings in about $300 a month, no small sum in a country where the annual per capita income is $500.” p. 38

According to Forrester Research, “at least 3.3 million white-collar jobs and  $136 billion in wages will shift from the U.S. to low-cost countries such as India, China, and Russia” by 2015.                                                               — p. 39

It is not just the United States experiencing this problem. Japan and many European countries also see their jobs moving to countries when well-trained workers will do the jobs for much less. This does not mean the companies doing this are being greedy. They are doing what must be done to be competitive. If they pay the high salaries in the United States, the cost of their products will increase so much that they will go out of business.

What does this mean to students today?

If you are considering a major in a field like accounting or computer science or other areas of information science, you need to ask how many jobs in that area are being filled overseas. You could end up with a diploma that will do you no good.

What areas should you consider?  Pink, in his book, suggests six areas that will be valued in the Conceptual Age. He refers to these as the Six Senses.  They are Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play  and Meaning.  p. 65-67

I would agree with you that these terms aren’t too helpful. To learn more about these, check out  Social Thinking and Creative Thinking.

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