The Thinker - RodinIt goes without saying that we currently live in an era dominated by the “knowledge worker”, as opposed to manual labour or those who use skills as their primary contribution. There is a fundamental difference between these two distinct types of workers. It is not only that one is slightly more labour intensive than the other (skills based workers can spend a lot of their time providing services, and knowledge workers do occasionally do some manual work) – the distinction is one of substance and form.
People who rely on skills for their livelihood have a much greater window of utility from their development – skills change very, very slowly over time, and skills-based workers do not need to panic about keeping up to date. Skills changes are fairly easy to identify and quantify. Investment in reasonably regular updates will suffice. Of course, some personal development is necessary, but over a work lifetime, it is unlikely that they will need to do much more than keep up with slow incremental changes in their skillset.
Knowledge, on the other hand, changes itself. Knowledge workers have to work much harder to keep up. In fact, Peter Drucker suggests that every 4 years, knowledge workers should do some additional studies. In fact, a fairly regular basis throughout a knowledge worker’s life, it will probably be necessary to completely reinvent oneself. Not just “retrain” or “revitalise”, but actually reinvent. In a 50-60 knowledge worker working lifespan, this may be necessary 3 or more times. Especially if you happen to live through a “tipping point” period of history, such as the one we’re living in right now.

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