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Part of the Solution: Find Your Place in the Knowledge-Based Economy

The diversification of Alberta’s economy has led to sharp growth in the business of solving today's tough questions through research and innovation.

In this sector, people use information to create something new, whether it’s a new or improved product, or a solution to an existing problem.

One of the main assets a person can have in this line of work is the ability to think outside the box and come at problems from different angles than everyone else.

One way to look at the knowledge-based economy is to compare it with other areas. For example, people working in manufacturing use their hands and physical tools to produce goods. Knowledge workers are more focused on creating ideas and concepts.

The knowledge shift

Alberta’s advanced technology sectors include clean energy, information and communications technology, and areas such as life sciences, which focuses on the study of living things. These sectors employ more than 50,000 Albertans.

Diversification is about relying on many sectors for growth, both old and new. The oil and gas economy continues to be important in Alberta. People employed in these roles hold important expertise that will be valuable to future innovations.

But the knowledge economy is good news for some oil and gas workers, because it can open up new career paths. The oil and gas industry uses state-of-the-art technologies. Oil and gas workers familiar with these technologies may find other places to use their expertise. Examples are jobs in research and development, data mining and analytics.

The global marketplace

The driving forces of the knowledge economy are information sharing and networking. Knowledge workers operate in a global marketplace and must be able to:

  • Connect in real time: There is constant networking through which workers share information
  • Adapt to rapid change: Slowing down for too long or failing to adapt is bad for business
  • Manage high consumer expectations: Clients demand personalized, high-performing products
  • Promote good values: Buyers want socially responsible products and services. Producing these often requires innovation
  • Embrace opportunity: Companies that look ahead to see what the “next big thing” might be are often ahead of the curve

Working in the knowledge economy

In the knowledge economy, skilled workers are a valuable asset. Companies use the ideas they generate to find ways to do things better. At the moment, the number of consultants, expert contractors and online learning services is steadily rising in Alberta. This shows that the knowledge economy is thriving.

Knowledge economy jobs include:

  • Software developers
  • Engineers
  • Physicians
  • Scientists
  • Lawyers
  • Researchers
  • Data scientists
  • Data mining analysts

The knowledge economy needs an educated population of people who:

  • Have advanced skills and expertise
  • Are motivated and mobile
  • Embrace change
  • Have strong problem-solving skills
  • Have good judgment

If you want to be part of the knowledge economy, focus on your:

  • Education: Work is becoming more technical in all industries and roles. Education is more important than ever across broad sectors and in specific jobs
  • Job skills: Employers need people with math and IT skills
  • Soft skills: You need to know how to solve problems, communicate and work with others. You need to be flexible, creative and agile. You should be open minded and have a global view
  • Lifelong learning: If you stay still for too long, you’ll fall behind. Seek out on-the-job training and upgrade your skills often
  • Entrepreneurial skills: The knowledge economy needs innovators with a strong business sense

These skills are valued in the knowledge economy. But more and more, they are needed in all industries and jobs. In a changing economy, it’s a good idea to work on them to keep your skills up to date.

Alberta’s growing knowledge economy

Alberta is already home to great sources of innovation and that isn’t expected to change any time soon. Small companies are known to be innovative and they make up 95% of Alberta’s businesses and generate 35% of all jobs in the private sector.

Alberta has a highly educated and skilled workforce, with an ever-expanding knowledge economy. Explore it now to see what types of opportunities may be out there waiting for you!

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