• Today
    December 17

  • 02:02 AM

AS I SEE THINGS: The knowledge economy

Brian Francis, bfrancis@uwichill.edu.bb

Added 25 September 2016

asiseethings-new

THE ECONOMICE LITERATURE speaks about the transition that economies go through from heavy dependence on agriculture and subsistence living to a more advanced society in which services and mass consumption dominate.

During this transformation, there is also a noticeable revolution in the means and methods of production of goods and services as well. Indeed, there was a time when labour was considered the most critical factor of production. The arguments shifted in later years to the importance of capital formation in the economic growth process.

Nowadays, a major talking point is the notion of human capital and its role in the production of goods and services. In fact, many economists and other pundits argue that nothing is more important than transforming our present human “labour force” into “human capital” and, if truth be told, that is precisely where the idea of shaping our educational systems to meet the needs of this 21st Century, becomes vital.

But what exactly are these economists and pundits zeroing in on? Logically, the focus here has to be on that critical nexus between education, technological, and hence, economic development. In a sense, to properly contextualise the argument, we can ask this simple question: What is the difference between the “old” days and today when it comes to the techniques applied in the production of goods and services? The clear answer is education and the technology that it has spawned. In a practical sense, that technological revolution to which we often refer – the outcome of education – is precisely what is meant when people speak of the “knowledge economy”. 

Consequently, more and more, for each product produced and sold around the world, if we were to decompose the final price paid by consumers, we may very well realise that an increasing proportion of that figure is used to pay the scientists and technicians and highly skilled workers who together are responsible for its creation and manufacture, and only a relatively small percentage of the price for the product is accounted for by the raw materials used to produce it!

Case in point: Take one of today’s iPads or smartphones, or any of these other new, amazing products that our young people take for granted. If you were to pry any of them open to examine the materials used in production, you would quickly discover that the pieces of plastics and other inputs cost relatively little.

Therefore, what consumers are really paying for when they purchase these products (watch, stop watch, calendar, phone, typewriter, computer, email, library of hundreds of books and thousands of articles, work station, shares-trading platform, banking transactions portal) which can do such an incredible variety of things and a whole lot of other functions is the brain power: the work of thousands of scientists and highly skilled technicians, which made it possible to use inter alia a few pieces of plastics and carbon materials and transform them into this marvel of technological capabilities known as a smartphones or iPads.

Indeed, it is the knowledge encapsulated, crystallised inside these devices that today’s consumers are paying for; not the cheap metals, carbon sheets and plastics that hold the products together.

In today’s world, we are really buying knowledge; “activated” knowledge, when we procure these modern devices. This is why we speak of the knowledge economy. And that is absolutely what we have to train our children and young people to be a part of in order to secure a better quality of life in the years to come for themselves.

Email: bfrancis@uwi.edu.bb

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Dos and Donts


Welcome to our discussion forum here on nationnews.com. We encourage lively debate, but we also urge you to take note of the following:

  • Stay on topic – This helps keep the thread focused on the discussion at hand. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.
  • Be respectful – Meeting differences of opinion with civil discussion encourages multiple perspectives and a positive commenting environment.
  • Do not type in capitals – In addition to being considered “shouting” it is also difficult to read.
  • All comments will be moderated – Given the volume of comments each day, this may take some time. So please be patient.
  • We reserve the right to remove comments – Comments that we find to be abusive, spam, libellous, hateful, off-topic or harassing may be removed.
  • Reproduction of comments – Some of your comments may be reproduced on the website or in our daily newspapers. We will use the handle, not your email address.
  • Do not advertise – Please contact our Advertising Department.
  • Contact our Online Editor if you have questions or concerns.
  • Read our full Commenting Policy and Terms of Use.
comments powered by Disqus

VIDEO

BLOGS

KRYSTLE CLEAR img
THE LONG VIEW img
INSIDE EDITORIAL img
What's Trending img
MONEY MATTERS img
Toni-Ann Johnson img

FRONT COVER OF TODAY'S NEWSPAPER

CARTOON

POLL

Are you cutting back on how much you spend this Christmas?

Yes
No
Not sure yet

INSTAGRAM