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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
technologies bring global need for new skills, September 22,
students at Day of Affirmation ceremonies at the University
of Capetown in South Africa, June 6, 1966, Senator Robert F.
Kennedy said: “There
is a Chinese curse which says, 'May he live in interesting
times'. Like it or not, we live in interesting times...”
Whether or not Kennedy’s statement is of Chinese origin or
meant to be a curse is debatable, but what is true is that
it still applies to our times today.
example of the times in which we live, I typically show my
students a picture of my grandmother’s high school class
taken with one of her town’s most famous winter residents.
The students in the picture of the Fort Myers (Florida) High
School class of 1924 surround an old Thomas Edison who is
seated in a large wicker chair. From the beginning of
mankind until the time of Edison (i.e., a man who had his
picture taken with my grandmother), people had to use some
type of flame to see after the sun went down. Electric
lights are something that we take for granted today—along
with countless other inventions and advancements.
in times of rapid innovation and change. Things that seemed
unimaginable only a few decades ago are now commonplace
today. Advances in science, medicine, and computer and
information technology have changed the ways that people
live, work, communicate, and play. It seems that the pace
of development of new technologies is ever increasing.
skills, competencies, and abilities required to thrive in
our rapidly changing world are also changing. Workers
wanting to compete for and hold cutting-edge jobs need
skills in mathematics, science, and engineering—skills that
take many years of intense education and training to learn.
Hard work, dedication, and years of formal study will be
required to prepare tomorrow’s workers for tomorrow’s
workplace. Rapid change also demands that today’s workers
continuously upgrade and improve their skills to be relevant
in tomorrow’s workplace.
changing technology is also making it easier for people from
other countries to compete for jobs that have long been out
of their reach. In total, the populations of just China and
India are more than seven times that of the United States.
The technologies that we use and continue to develop make it
easier for millions of highly skilled and educated overseas
knowledge workers from China, India, and other countries
(who are hungry for high-paying jobs) to compete for the
best and most innovative jobs in the marketplace.
in interesting times—times that require new sets of skills
and competencies to succeed and thrive in the workplace.
Modern and future technologies require modern and future job
skills. Parents should encourage their children to master
and pursue science and mathematics education. Young people
should position themselves through education and work
experiences to make themselves relevant in tomorrow’s
marketplace, and current workers should continuously upgrade
and develop their skills and abilities to remain relevant
and productive. Are our interesting times a curse? You
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