A new mutation of an old virus has recently grown to pandemic proportions – affecting not only people my clients, but also my own household. Unlike influenza, this virus has no vaccination. You have to let it run its course, and in the end, it will change you.

It’s the Back-to-School virus. All around me I hear people writing tuition cheques, buying books, and draping themselves across my kitchen table dissecting flatworms and undressing the quadratic equation desperately seeking the value of ‘x’.

While the rewards of their efforts seem a long way off, and limited opportunities for employment at the end of their student careers, it’s still a good investment. According to modern-day sooth sayers (economists etc.), the hot jobs of the twenty first century belong to a new class of worker called the knowledge worker. Our present-day students position themselves to be part of this labour force.

Along with “Power to the People,” “Give the People What They Want,” and “Why buy a Mattress Anywhere Else? ,” the phrase “Knowledge is Power” became a slogan during the past decades of the twentieth century. While it sounded good, nobody really knew what it meant – until some people started getting paid for it. Now knowledge has a price tag and everybody wants a piece of the action. Knowledge is a commodity.

I know the height of Mount Baker in feet is 10,750. Unfortunately, nobody will want to pay me for that. That’s merely information. You can find all the information you want on the Internet and in books. Knowledge workers need to know how to do something with that information. For example, I could subject 10,750 feet to dimensional analysis:

(10,750 feet)(12 inches/foot)(2.54 centimeters/inch)(1 meter/100 centimeters) =3,276.6 meters

Pretty good, eh? I took information and doing something with it. If I can do that with Mount Baker I could do it with Mount Seymour, and I can probably read a topographic map, or operate survey equipment. Knowledge is value added information. That’s knowledge people pay for, and I can take that to the bank.

People pay for knowledge when:

They don’t want to do it themselves, They don’t have the ability to do it themselves, They’re not qualified to do it themselves,  or They don’t have time to do it themselves

I sometimes do archaeological survey work. I’m trained in it, and I’m qualified to do it. When I’m working as an archaeologist, I’m a knowledge worker. If someone wants to develop some land, they will call in an archaeological company to do a survey and assessment of any archaeological resources on the land. The company can do it themselves, but often they’ll hire someone like me to dig holes in the ground and write the report. For my troubles, I’m paid an obscene amount of money for a guy with a shovel, then I disappear into the woodwork. I’m a mercenary archaeologist in a free world archaeological economy.

Sometimes I’m a fitness instructor. Many people think fitness instructors are mindless jocks or bimbos who revel in making class participants explore their submissive sides. (Most of the time it’s the instructors themselves who share this view.) Nothing could be farther from the truth. Participants are sophisticated consumers of information of health, strength, and physical appearance. Instructors have to keep up with new information and give it to participants freely.

Over the years I’ve had many pillars of society in my class. While I don’t want to mention names, I doubt Dr. David Suzuki would stand for misinformation in a class he paid $2.50 to attend, although, as a geneticist, he might like the height of Mount Baker recited in meters. Class members like Dr. Suzuki vote with their feet. If they don’t get what they pay for, they don’t come. No participants, no class. No class, no money.

As I mentioned, knowledge workers are going to be hot in this decade, and they are going to be in all sectors of the economy. To cash in, you need to assimilate information. Learn something. Soon you’ll be working with this information and becoming a knowledge worker.


Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He also does some work as a field Archaeologist. He is also a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive  

You can reach him at home at or at re looking for a change, start with a resume makeover at competitive rates

When he is not doing all the above, he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: