by Dean Whittaker

It used to be that people moved to areas where work was available. The growth of industry and commerce has prompted great human migrations in this nation’s past.

But in this country and around the world, the nature of work is changing.  No longer do people move to work, but rather work moves to people.  Jobs are not leaving this country. The work done in those jobs is. The performance of work takes place where there are pools of talent to do it.

So, what does this movement of work rather than people mean to economic development?  Nowadays, our real challenge is to attract a pool of talented workers to our geographic area and keep them there. To create work, and thereby wealth, we will need to connect people, things, and ideas in new and different ways.

This new value chain requires two types of work: physical work done by hand and/or machine that transforms raw material into a finished product, and mental work where thoughts and ideas are developed, communicated, and exchanged.

Strangely enough, this makes the knowledge inventory of an area as important, if not more important, than the inventory of available sites and buildings. The knowledge base of the place becomes the differentiating factor in site selection if you want to get knowledge work done. What is the knowledge base of your place?

Globalization means work can be performed anywhere.  Jobs are no longer so connected to places but to the people capable of doing them. The issue is not outsourcing or off-shoring, but sourcing.  Where work gets sourced is determined by talent pools, not geography or even infrastructure. Talent pools attract work.  Knowledge work gets done where there are pools of knowledge workers. The new question is what will it take to attract, keep and enhance a pool of knowledge workers?  What draws talented people? According to Jim Ware and Charlie Grantham, transportation, communication, and education do. To learn more about their thinking, check out their article located at: .

Websites of interest: – a community of IT, HR, and facility professionals discussing the future of work.

www. – contains a weblog discussion on how to attract and keep the next generation of workers.