At one point, there seemed to only be a handful of career paths someone could take in the United States. For centuries, even, there were only a finite number of jobs out there for people to pursue. Nowadays, however, there always seems to be a new job, career, or even industry that comes out of nowhere thanks to technology’s prevalence.
Laborers were in abundance in the past, but times have certainly changed. Because of the fast-moving and innovative time we’re in, the job market is now dominated by a new group: knowledge workers.
Approximately 73% of the U.S. workforce — which equates to about 100 million people — are known as knowledge workers. These professionals primary work in open office environments and utilize technology for the majority of the tasks they complete. It’s not just the technology, however, that deems this group “knowledge workers,” it’s the knowledge itself.
A knowledge worker is defined by someone whose main capital is, in fact, knowledge. Some of the most common knowledge worker careers in today’s job force include software engineers, academics, lawyers, designers, architects, and pharmacists.
The term “knowledge worker” was first coined by Peter Drucker in his book, The Landmarks of Tomorrow (1959). Drucker originally stated that knowledge workers are “high-level workers who apply theoretical and analytical knowledge, acquired through formal training, to develop products and services.”
Unfortunately, despite the fact that the majority of the U.S. workforce is filled with knowledge workers, there are still plenty of unfilled jobs because of the lack of formal training.
According to Forbes, there are currently 2.5 million chronically unfilled jobs that require technical training and cannot be filled because qualified U.S. employees can’t be found.
Thinking for a living seems like a strange concept, but it’s truly essential in today’s society. Hopefully, as the need for more knowledge workers becomes even more evident, worker training and even the educational system will adjust accordingly.