Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Who benefits from the "Knowledge Economy?"

The Projo reports today that over a hundred thousand dollars is being invested by government agencies to help develop a "knowledge economy." Presumably this will bring high tech jobs developing hardware, software and bolstering design jobs. All of which sounds wonderful, of course. But still I have to ask myself, who's going to be working in these jobs of tomorrow?  Currently the overwhelming majority of jobs in this state are in the service industry. These are mostly unskilled or semi-skilled positions which pay modest wages. A lot of these jobs ought to be transitional ones at best; minor rungs on an upwardly mobile ladder. Only they're often not. Social mobility tends not to reach thousands of workers in the service sector. Part of the reason is because they lack the skills and training opportunities of workers in other sectors. When money is tight, educational expenses can be hard to justify. So when I see the prospect of hundreds of possible high skilled, high tech jobs coming to Rhode Island, I can't help but wonder who will benefit most. Whoever it is, I doubt it will be the workers who are here now, struggling to make a decent living for themselves and their families.
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