|Yes, well, read on please...|
I define a conscientious worker as one who is reliable, consistent, and intent on doing tasks correctly. This may not sufficiently describe the highly successful CEO, the high-flyer sales rep, or the brilliant IT specialist, but these characteristics will fit most mid-level workers going forward. Employers will look for them up front and measure them once someone is hired. As a practical matter this will favor women workers.
To paraphrase Tyler Cowen in Average Is Over, ...women are on average more conscientious than men...more likely to follow instructions and orders with exactness without resentment. This is especially true for middle-skills jobs, a category that will grow as the digital revolution continues it's relentless assault on our economy.
What about men? Cowen thinks of men as "higher variance" performers at work. This is to say the range (from excellent to poor) in execution of duties is greater for men than it is for women. This means males that are highly dedicated, conscientious, and capable (especially in specialized areas) will do very well. But males that are head-strong, less than completely responsible, and not accepting of authority, will do very badly. Why? Jobs of the future will rely more on smart machines and less on brute force labor. These machines will be expensive to purchase and maintain resulting in zero tolerance for irresponsible players on the work site or factory floor.
Connect the dots on this. The Marketplace of the future will reward (1) pure talent, (2) niche specialists, and (2) conscientious workers. Those lacking, especially males - and most particularly disadvantaged and poorly educated males - will be dead meat. Remember, everything will that can be measured will eventually be measured. Bad actors won't make it past the first HR step. And those showing bad actor tendencies post hire will be easy to spot (recall that measuring, grading, and rating are what digits do).They'll be placed on a very short string.
Employers will of course reach and pay for talent and niche specialists to fill key positions - but not for mid-level jobs. Worker attributes such as conformity and conscientiousness will increase in importance. In a world where brand identity rules, control and conformity (camouflaged of course) cannot be left to chance. It will be all about "the fit" with very little lenience.
I am concerned about this for the entire country and of course, right here at home. Success marginalization (to coin a phrase) begins in the home and continues at school. Our nation has essentially tossed in the towel on any societal home/family/early childhood fix in spite of mountains of evidence telling us otherwise. As for public K-12 education (the easier of the two to fix) it's not a capital "P" priority - if it were we'd fix it but we aren't. Here in Nevada the high school graduation rate is near the bottom. Lots of good people are trying to change the situation but it's not enough.
Where ever conscientiousness resides within each of us, I can imagine clear air for lots of these dropouts. Sure, many have something to offer if given an opportunity, but the Marketplace cares not. What's hard for these kids today will become absolutely impossible in the future when every little thing about them will be only a few keystrokes away.
John Jeffrey Lundell