In addition to some of the obvious changes regarding the contemporary workforce, the underlying economy that supports the workforce is changing also. Some economists and trend pundits believe that the United States, and indeed the entire world, will see an adjustment to the very foundation of our economy in terms of wealth distribution and fewer jobs being created.
What does this mean for the skilled self-educator? In a world where there is going to be an ever increasing need to keep up with the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in the job and career market, along with a shrinking number of jobs available, the self-educator has a huge advantage over anyone who relies primarily on traditional formal (classroom-based) learning to learn new things to compete and stay ahead.
Famed economist Tyler Cowen in his book, Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation, details why the widening gap between rich and poor means that from now on if you are not at the top, you’re at the bottom. What does he means by that?
Tyler contends, based on his research and economics experience, that the global labor market is quickly changing due to growth at both the high and low ends of the spectrum. Low wage job creation has been robust while jobs at the higher end are leveling off or retreating. Amid all this the number of American millionaires and billionaires continues to skyrocket..
Due to what he terms “machine intelligence” (essentially computerization) high earners are taking advantage of data analysis and achieving ever-better results. At the same time, low-wage earners who have not jumped on board the continuing learning bandwagon to make the most of these new technologies have poor employment prospects that will only get worse over time.
Tyler says that what was formerly considered a steady and secure life somewhere in the middle (the middle class as it’s often called), in other words “average,” is over. You will either be part of the workforce that continually learns and adapts to embrace and leverage new technologies and the new realities and do well economically, or you will be part of the workforce that does not embrace learning and rapid adaptation and will not do so well.
Self-education will be the difference in having a fulfilling, meaningful and profitable work life as opposed to a mundane and low-paying employment future. I contend that using only formal schooling to keep up with such rapidly changing technologies, knowledge domains and skills will be cumbersome and ineffective for many workers who must learn and work simultaneously in sync with the modern realities of our lives.