Australia 2020: Turning knowledge into wealth

Increase wealth with innovation

 

One of the focuses of the  Australia 2020 Summit is the productivity agenda. This link contains an overview and also a downloadable PDF.

http://www.australia2020.gov.au/topics/infrastructure.cfm

 

This agenda targets the changing nature of the workforce and the economy and how ‘innovation’ systems can be used to improve productivity across these areas. The economy needs to adapt to an aging population, the problems of climate change and a new economic landscape which focuses more on China and not just the US.

 

One of the innovation messages is to “turn knowledge into wealth” and improve commercialisation of science and research. This productivity agenda also features improvements in early childhood education. These two are intertwined if education and the economy are considered as whole.

 

People exist on the continuum – starting in education and ending up in the economy.  

 

Currently the education system is focussed around modules of knowledge that don’t necessarily relate to real world situations.  They do not apply directly to turning that knowledge into wealth.

One of the major missing components is teaching children and young people  about money, entrepreneurship and creative innovation
.

Science is taught in a vacuum, likewise literature and other areas of knowledge. I am not suggesting that these lessons are left behind – but that there are also modules that help students to turn their passions into profits. The commercialisation of science, or the arts can also be taught alongside how to use the internet to build a business, how to sell and how to account for the profits legally. The expansion of programs like Young Entrepreneur are needed. There could be more competitions that encourage participation and innovation, rather than viewing from the sidelines like a reality TV show. Seed money for young start-up ventures could be sought from angel investors. This should be encouraged as part of mainstream schooling and not just for the geeks or the super intelligent. Young people need to understand that they will need to earn a living so being taught the value and reality of money early on will help them later. If this had been encouraged for my generation, the credit crisis may well have never happened.

 

Some might say that it should not just be all about the money, and I agree that learning should also be undertaken purely for the pleasure in learning. But the practicality of what children are taught and how this will be used in the workplace must be examined. One of the graphs in the PDF shows how the number of people in management, admin and professionals has increased and the number of tradespeople has decreased. This means a huge number of people who work in offices, and not enough tradies to fix their plumbing or do their roof. I know, as I am one of the office workers who finds IKEA furniture difficult to put together!

 

To address this, education needs to start valuing real world skills as important to learn from an early age. Indulge children who want to bang nails into wood – maybe they will turn into builders instead of IT consultants – and probably make more money that way. Has the exit of male teachers from early learning meant that these more ‘male’ skills have been neglected in favour of softer skills? Teaching needs more innovation, less blame and a better PR job. It is often not portrayed in a way that encourages young people to enter teacher training currently.

 

For the rest of us, increasing wealth with innovation is exactly what we need to do. Changing the paradigm from one job or one career to multiple streams of income, investments, and self education for life.

 

Jim Rohn says “Formal education will make you a living; self education will make you a fortune.”

Individuals needs to embrace this attitude and start learning about the new economy and the impacts of technology, China and climate change.

Stop complaining about the oil decline and invest in sustainable energy stocks. Buy property on the outskirts of the city and save the change for your investments. Read books instead of watching TV. Listen to audios on self development instead of music all the time. Learn a language (Mandarin?) on your commute. Learn some practical skills. Take some evening classes.


And then turn this knowledge into your own wealth.

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