Plenty of Work But Where Is The Knowledge?


Millions of people are looking for Jobs.  Meanwhile, employers complain of a chronic “skills mismatch” that prevents them from hiring people or initiating new innovations.

When an engineer is laid off from an airplane manufacturer, a company like Starbucks has no idea what that person knows even though aircraft and milk steamers have a great deal in common from the perspective of the Engineer (both are pressure vessels subject to extreme environmental conditions).

The same is true for a marine engineer, and HVAC engineer, or an electrostatic coating machinery engineer.  Each of these disciplines has far more in common than they have differences.  However, if you compare the descriptions for any of these jobs, they sound like they all happen on different planets.

God forbid you are not an expert on MS Excel, which only takes a few hours for almost anyone to learn – yet not tagging that radio button can negate 20 years of experience that only 1% of people have the desire, discipline, and intellect to achieve.

The same holds true for many talents and professions. There are serious problems with the way that we discern the supply and demand for knowledge assets.

What is needed is an intermediate knowledge inventory in the commons that everyone can index to.  So when an engineer tags “pressure vessels” the term registers into the resident ontology of all observers.

Why is this better?

Of course companies are trying to eliminate variance and risk by hiring a person who has been trained by someone else – preferable a direct competitor.  On the other hand, the mantra of modern business is to innovate.  Innovation does not happen by duplicating yesterday’s ideas. Mixing diverse combinations of knowledge assets, and not all common knowledge assets, accelerates the process of Innovation.  Think of all the music that is yet to be created for lack of musicians to play the different instruments.

An intermediate knowledge inventory solves both problems by allowing companies to introduce diverse knowledge assets without introducing irrelevant knowledge assets.  It also gives people far more mobility to pursue specialties that they are most talented and interested in.  As such, the allocation of knowledge assets would improve to match supply of knowledge with the demand for knowledge in an innovation economy.

There is not a shortage or work, only a shortage of knowledge about knowledge.  

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