Jobs And Careers - Training - New Career Directions In The Information Age

 

Never before in the history of the world has so much information been available to so many people on such a wide range of interests, occupations, business, scientific, cultural, social, political and miscellaneous data.

Knowledge, of course, has been around for a long time and we are often humbled to find out that the ancient world possessed scientific knowledge and technical expertise that was lost and simply rediscovered by modern man. There is evidence for example, that the Egyptian  wood worker of 2,500 B.C. was a master craftsman, familiar with most of the carpentry devices known to the modern cabinet  maker and that when Iran  was the  world’s first great empire around 500 B.C., Iranian doctors were the forerunners to today’s general practitioner. Sumerians invented the sixty (60) minute hour and people like Pythagoras, Aristotle, Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Marie Curie and Albert Einstein all possessed the kind of perceptive and analytical skills and insight which today form the basis of modern science and technology.

Our age, the age of information has taken a quantum leap however, which none of these people before have experienced - that is, we now posses the kind of powerful communication technology which gives us the ability to communicate and avail ourselves of information on a global scale. Through computers people all over the world have access to information literally at their finger tips and can research, find and study any subject or interest they have within minutes. This is providing unprecedented opportunities on occupations and facilitates the individual’s capacity to explore and use relevant, up-to-date information in planning and decision making.

‘On Line’ Information

Imagine all the information in the entire collection of the Encyclopaedia Britannica stored in a computer and available and affordable at a moments notice, add to that business information on global market trends, current trading prices on any commodity from cars in Japan to skilled labour in Mexico, information on scientific and medical breakthroughs, on education and career opportunities, on global investment and trading prospects, etc. This is not a futuristic outlook, but present day reality, a reality which provides us with a global perspective, erases national boundaries and connects us to the heartbeat of innovation, discovery and enterprise in every corner of the world. In the developed countries ‘on line services’ provide and sell all kinds of current information which are communicated and can be transferred from one computer to another.

The availability and rapid communication of all this data is changing our work and business environment, challenging our educational methods and vocational training and establishing new career and employment trends.

Entrepreneurship is on the rise, not surprisingly when people now have easy access to information to get things done, insight into exciting new opportunities and connection and communication with a large world market.

It is evident that every career minded or progressive individual must attain proficiency in the use of the computer. Both management and staff must be computer literate whatever their discipline and must understand how to find, disseminate, interpret and communicate information for achieving speed, accuracy and efficiency in their business transactions and decision making, in order to ultimately attain the competitive edge in business.

Knowledge-Based Organizations

In an article in the Harvard Business Review titled ‘The Coming of The New Organization’, Peter Drucker states that ‘the typical business will be knowledge-based, an organization composed largely of specialists who direct and discipline their own performance through organized feedback from colleagues, customers, and headquarters.’ ‘Information’ he defines as knowledge endowed with relevance and purpose and observes that ‘Converting data into information thus requires knowledge. And knowledge, by definition, is specialized. (In fact, truly knowledgeable people tend toward overspecialization, whatever their field, precisely because there is always so much more to know.)’

In this kind of organization, he points out ‘people will require greater self discipline and there will be even greater emphasis on individual responsibility for relationships and communications.’

An Educational Challenge

Our present education system which is on the decline and which is often too exam oriented, will need to check these inadequacies and prepare itself for a more dynamic role in helping to shape individuals with a greater degree of self confidence to assume responsibility as well as the necessary analytical, research and communication skills crucial to making and conveying well informed decisions.

Language And Communication

According to the authors of the book ‘Megatrends 2000’, which outlines new directions for the 90’s into the 21st century, ‘The Language of the Information Age is English. Computers talk to each other in English. More than 80% of all information stored in the more than 100 million computers around the world is English.

85% of international telephone conversations are conducted in English as are three-fourths of the world’s mail, telexes and cables.

Computer programme instructions and software are often supplied only in English. Over half the world’s technical and scientific periodicals are in English. The language of medicine, electronics and space technology is English.

English is the language of international business and has replaced French as the language of diplomacy.’

A good command of the English Language is therefore a valuable skill which should be developed by all who seek to advance in their business, career or profession.

Although English is the dominant language of world communication, French, Italian and German also give persons an edge within the Jamaican Tourist Industry. As we look outwards to the wider European Economic Community and the French and Spanish speaking Caribbean, French speaking Canada and Spanish speaking South and Central America, for new business, trade links and opportunities, foreign language skills will become  increasingly important assets.

Transcending Boundaries And Limitations

As information transcends boundaries, language and cultural limitations so will the people, skills and businesses it is shaping. New career directions and opportunities for an international exchange of labour and enterprise.

The progressive career man or woman must therefore develop a global perspective and keep well informed of international trends. An ideal combination of skills to meet the challenge of international competition must include computer proficiency, language and communication skills, research and analytical ability, as well as specialization in a given field. Information will be changing so rapidly however that everyone will be challenged to keep up, adapt and manage change itself. And as we map new directions, we will each have to keep track of just where we are heading.

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