The Knowledge Economy and its Impact on Career Change

Friday, April 4, 2014 - 09:38

Guest post by Andrew MacDonald

The days of a “job for life” are fast disappearing, if not gone already. Career change in the workplace has become far more commonplace.

Inextricably tied to this is the development over the past two decades of the “knowledge economy” – where new jobs are being created and new industries are emerging. While this is more apparent in sectors such as technology or health, in almost every vocation you can think of, the innovative use of ideas, knowledge and information is having a permanent impact.

As a reflection of this new economy, once frowned-upon multiple career changes are becoming the new norm for the modern workforce.

So, what are the implications for our workplaces? How do businesses best develop and retain their employees in a shifting employment environment?

Organisations need to embrace the knowledge economy and be able to adapt to the rapid rate of change if they want to continue to move forward and attract and retain staff. Those forward thinking and innovative companies that thrive in the knowledge economy typically do the following:

Consider business “mega” trends

Mega trends, such as urbanisation and climate change, are impacting markets around the globe and forward-thinking companies will consider what it means for their business and adapt accordingly.

Having a global perspective is now critical for any company big or small. Local, state and country boundaries are fast disappearing; in the digital age the world is just one click away.

Encourage continual innovation

Innovative companies will typically see marked improvements in areas such as sales, markets, profitability and productivity, and a flow-on positive impact on training, staff retention and new employment.

Build collaborations

Collaborating with universities, research centres, think-tanks, co-working communities and other companies across the globe will enable the transfer and assimilation of knowledge which can then be adapted to local and individual needs.

This can be an incredibly powerful tool, for businesses of all sizes, that is often overlooked

Leverage technology

Previously it was business tools such as computers and the internet, today it is about social media and cloud computing. In the future, it may be big data or something not yet developed.

Basic competency in technology is a given. To be successful in the knowledge economy the necessary infrastructure will already be in place, and the organisational focus will be on the creative use of that technology to solve business needs.

For organisations that are plugged into the knowledge economy, career change will more frequently be accommodated internally. This will come through growth and change within the company.

Companies will need to adapt to change and this will deliver new opportunities for individuals, a “win-win” for both parties given the cost of high employee turnover.

For others, an external career change will be inevitable at some point.

However, the creativity and adaptability introduced by businesses into their operations (and increasingly by the education system into the training for our future workers) will leave those people far better equipped for a new role or vocation in the knowledge economy.


Andrew MacDonald is the Director of Reblan Pty Ltd and Chair of BioMelbourne Network. Andrew has broad experience gathered locally and internationally in environmental, biotechnology, information technology and finance sectors, bringing together a wide range of strategic, operational and corporate finance skills developed in fast-growing and constantly changing environments.