New report on young professionals

Submitted by Ed Morrison on Fri, 12/23/2005 - 08:59.
Cities are competing for young knowledge workers. CEOs for Cities, has issued a new report that explores the issue. It's another example of how economic development is shifting from a focus on recruiting companies to a focus on recruiting people.

You can read about it here. You can download the report here.

What's A "knowledge worker"

Ed, how are you?

I'm sorry but I am not up on ED lingo. What's a knowledge worker?
I get the gist of it, but am curious as to whether there is an agreed upon definition.

It's about knowledge, not workers

Good question. I have the same problem with terms like Creative Class, Young Professionals, Information Technology, clusters... We often focus on associations based on age, profession, educational attainment, class, origin and title rather than broader qualities like creative, collaborative, innovative. Creative is not a class - knowledge is not work - these are characteristics nurtured in people through their families, schools and cultures. We can influence how creative and knowledgable are the people in our community. We can also influence how attractive is our community to people outside who are creative and knowledgable. If we succeed with that, we will be a very successful community.

def: Knowledge Worker

Norm and Ed, fwiw, I googled "knowledge worker", and here is the definition from

A knowledge worker is anyone who works for a living at the tasks of developing or using knowledge. For example, a knowledge worker might be someone who works at any of the tasks of planning, acquiring, searching, analyzing, organizing, storing, programming, distributing, marketing, or otherwise contributing to the transformation and commerce of information and those (often the same people) who work at using the knowledge so produced. A term first used by Peter Drucker in his 1959 book, Landmarks of Tomorrow, the knowledge worker includes those in the information technology fields, such as programmers, systems analysts, technical writers, academic professionals, researchers, and so forth. The term is also frequently used to include people outside of information technology, such as lawyers, teachers, scientists of all kinds, and also students of all kinds.

There is also an article on it on wikipedia, here.

According to both articles, the term was coined by Peter Drucker in 1958.

I absolutely agree we need to avoid meaningless phrases, which is why I asked the question in the first place. It is not clear to me that "knowledge worker" is a meaningless phase though. I can see it both ways, as in one sense it strike me that all it means is "white collar worker". But not having read the context where Drucker coined the term, that may not be accurate at all.

Per Ed's post here, is directly related to this conversation. Particularly if you take the first part section of the above definition's list of what is included in the term knowledge workers; "those in the information technology fields, such as programmers, systems analysts, technical writers, academic professionals, researchers, and so forth."

By defining "knowledge workers" that way, you can more easily define how you want to educate people, and develop a concrete, implementable action plan. And then on to Cleveland

Build knowledge workers into dashboard

I think measuring IT-related knowledge workers is very valuable. Part of the whole Voices and Choices initiative is to create an economic development "dashboard" and #s of different types of knowledge workers should be part of it, along with lawyers, teachers, scientists, and others of the "Creative Class", which would include artists, designers, architects, etc.

Norm brings up a good point.

Norm brings up a good point. We need to be careful about our language...careful not to slip into meaningless phrases. Far more important is that change of focus to collaboration, creativity, innovation. Sucess, to my mind, will come from hundreds of vibrant conversations taking place all over our region...conversations that lead to new knowledge, understanding, insight and innovation.

Dynamics of conversations

I agree we are starting to see more vibrant conversations taking place all over our region, and much of that is new and happening in cyberspace, centering around knowledge workers.

All communities have had physical forums, town halls, panels, red rooms and community of minds type meetings for all of time - I don't know if they're any different or better now than ever before - but we've never before lived in a virtual world of forums, blogs, social networks and other internetworked collaborative capabilities.

While some people may not find that transformational, knowledge workers do. The knowledge workers who are here are doing some cool stuff with technology, and that will attract more knowledge workers.