“What does capitalism mean when knowledge governs rather than money? And what do ‘free markets’ mean when knowledge workers are the true assets? Knowledge workers can be neither bought nor sold. They do not come with a merger or an acquisition. It is certain that the emergence of the knowledge worker will bring about fundamental changes in the very structure and nature of the economic system.”
—Peter F. Drucker
Many discussions about knowledge work refer to Peter Drucker’s pioneering insight, formed as early as the 1950s, that those in developed countries were entering an era in which we’d use our heads more than our hands. There is, of course, no question that this shift is occurring and is causing “fundamental changes” in our economic and political system. Consider, for instance, the growing participation rates of Hispanics in the workforce.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that about 23 million people of Hispanic origin made up 15% of the labor force in 2010. That is projected to increase to 18% in 2018. Moreover, the same study reports that unemployment among this group was 6% among those with a bachelor’s degree or above, 11.5% among those with only a high school education and 13.2% among those without a high school education.
Efforts by both political parties to secure the “Hispanic vote,” as though it was only a matter of immigration policy and how we treat illegal immigrants, amounts to a half-truth.
In the age of knowledge work, this segment of the population, which also tends to have a strong family culture, should be encouraged to place the highest priority on education. Otherwise, we in the U.S. are going to begin to look more and more like a less-developed country.
Our political parties would be doing the country a great favor to emphasize the importance of higher education for this fast-growing group and provide incentives for our colleges to become more “Hispanic friendly” without lowering standards. This includes paying special attention to marketing, as well as to the care and nurture of these students, to encourage high graduation rates especially for those who may be the first in their family to attend college.
It is a social responsibility and also an institutional responsibility to increase diversity. Our economic wellbeing as a knowledge society depends on it.