"Workforce Development through
the Knowledge Economy Lens"
Delivered at the International Economic Development Conference
Workforce Development through the
Knowledge Economy Lens
(International IEDC Conference 2020)
“Workforce Development through the Knowledge Economy Lens”
Slide 1 to Slide 3
We, the economic development community inherently prepare for the future, today. We are developing communities and economies for tomorrow. Preparing now, for what may lie ahead.
And we are undertaking all of this work, this preparation for the future, as significant trends drive change. This means that just as today is different from yesterday. So tomorrow will be different from today.
Although I could speak at length about each of them, these are the trends that are driving this change.
Demography from the perspective of an ageing population, science from the perspective of technological convergence, the changing natural environment, the spread of world views in any community. Lastly, the increasing digitisation of every aspect of our lives and economies.
It seems that no-one and no organisation is immune to the trends that are driving change.
And there is another trend that has been underway for the last 50 years. And that is in the world of work. Now, there are four basic tasks that business requires of their workforce. Routine and non-routine manual tasks. And routine and non-routine cognitive tasks.
As you can see, the only type of skill that has been increasingly in demand over the decades are for people who can undertake non-routine cognitive tasks. In short, people skills and thinking skills.
This phenomena affects both sides of the workforce equation. For example, is the business owner operating and competing with the right mix of skills in their workforce? And, are those who are building their own careers developing the right set of skills.
How we respond to all of these trends is important.
So, for the remainder of this presentation I am going to use the framework of the knowledge economy to give you some workforce development insights. To give you some ideas to build economically resilient communities as these trends shape our future.
I want you to grasp hold of the notion that resilience is built through growing your stock of knowledge.
That it is human capital is built through the distribution of knowledge.
This is how the rest of this presentation will flow. I’m going to explain what the knowledge economy is, and what the distribution of knowledge is.
Then I’ll follow with some examples and outcomes.
You will be able to take these ideas with you and potentially apply them to your locale.
As you can see, the Knowledge Economy is comprised of three parts: the production of knowledge, the distribution of knowledge and the application of knowledge.
The production of knowledge has to do with research. It is where new knowledge comes from. It is from this well that the health of the community and economy are improved over the long term. The distribution of knowledge has to do with teaching, with mentoring and networking. It is where we teach and are taught new things, or refreshed on that which we have forgotten. Where the new knowledge produced is distributed. Finally, the application of knowledge. This is where innovation occurs. It is where people bring knowledge and insights to market. It is the result of distributing knowledge.
The knowledge economy functions best when academia, business and government are working together. Academia plays their part primarily in producing knowledge, but also in its distribution and application. Business plays their part primarily in applying knowledge, but also in its distribution and production. Finally, government supports the smooth functioning of the three components separately and together as a whole. These three sets of institutions make up the Knowledge Economy Ecosystem.
Let’s turn to the distribution of knowledge component. We can readily appreciate that as we distribute knowledge we can improve our “know-what, know-why, know-how and know-who”. And we can do this several ways. We can classify these ways as teaching, networking and mentoring. Teaching can occur in a formal classroom setting for example, or an afternoon workshop at a business. Networking is another way to distribute knowledge. For example, at networking events or those one-on-one meetings in a café. A third way is through mentoring, an intentional flow of knowledge between two people.
And what are the benefits of distributing knowledge? What are the benefits in paying attention to these three modes of distributing knowledge?
To put is simply, you are going to have more connections between people, you are going to experience economic growth and you are going to see a diversification of your economy.
You are going to improve the economic resilience of your community.
You see, quality education whether in formal settings or in the workplace, will improve economic growth.
An intentional stance, by the knowledge economy stakeholders, that leans into innovation will naturally cause knowledge to flow throughout the wider community. Forward momentum in this space produces long term positive results.
Here is the distillation of these few minutes. The essence of this presentation is this - is your locale a learning locale? Is it learning new things, is it open to innovation? Are your firms developing new products, streamlining processes, looking afresh at their positioning? Is your education system and, more broadly, your professional development programs attuned to the trends that are driving change?
Here is what we are doing in Victoria. These are some of the ways that we are developing our workforce.
We have a series of tech schools were secondary students attend in short blocks of time to explore specialist STEAM programs
The Victorian government has funded free vocational education for selected courses
It has also funded various innovation programs. For example, a startup community, called the InnCrowd (innovation crowd) in my locale.
There is also support for initiatives between business and education providers
Last on this list are the workforce retraining programs
Finally, here are some of the outcomes that we experience.
Consistent economic growth, low rates of unemployment, a dynamic range of education providers with quality outcomes.
Importantly, we can’t dismiss Melbourne’s top ranking globally as an attractive city to live in
So, thankyou for your attendance. I trust that this look at workforce development through the knowledge economy lens has been beneficial. That you take away some ideas that are of benefit to you and the locale you support.
I do want to point out that I am available for any follow-up. My contact details are listed here on the screen.
I leave you with this thought. Can you describe your locale as a learning locale? An economically resilient community is built through the intentional distribution of knowledge.