There are Other Kinds of Career – (1) Single Track

by Barrie Hopson on January 5, 2009 · 0 comments

in Uncategorized


Because we talk so much about portfolio careers it is all too easy to forget that the majority of people are choosing other career patterns. We happen to think, and have data to support this, that it is becoming a more popular and real choice for more and more people. but we would like to put it into context. We will, therefore, post over the next week or so what we think are the 4 main career patterns in the 21st century. We would love to get comments on this. Maybe we have missed some!

We begin with the old 20th century favourite: the Single Track Career

A Single Track Career is the one that many of us have been brought up with. It developed with the industrial revolution and the notion of specialisation. Production was broken down into specific tasks and people were employed to carry out these specific tasks. Employers were suspicious of people who had a wide range of interests and skills – ‘jack of all trades master of none’. The ladder symbolises this track very well as we were all supposed to be motivated to ‘get on’, meaning upwards. We continued until gold watch time and then become a retired teacher, builder, manager, shop worker, etc. If we worked well and were loyal then we were promised a long-term job and that we would be ‘looked after’. Careers advisor’s throughout the 20th century helped young people to work out what they wanted to do for a living, i.e. what job and career they would wish to pursue for the rest of their lives.

Pluses? Security, opportunity to be trained and developed, predictable income, feeling of belonging, recognised social status in that everyone knew what you did and where you worked. You have a job title.

Minuses? Today no organisation can offer a career or a job for life. Organisations are born and die or are reinvented so there is no secure place against which you can lean your ladder. People themselves now change more quickly. The different generations want different things from work. Generation Y want personal development, social values and project work with people they respect and are under no illusion that any position will last for more than a few years. Even the baby boomers in a recent survey , stated that they were not sure what they wanted to do when they grew up! 46% of them were looking forward to a new career that would be more satisfying than what they had previously had. 61% of them wanted to learn new skills.

Single track careers are still possible but less so and job swapping between organisations is often the way of developing that work style.

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