Portfolio careers in the US

by Barrie Hopson on December 18, 2009 · 3 comments

in New ways of working,portfolio careers

We were delighted today to discover a reference to our book on Tom Peter’s website.  The article also pointed us to this article in the Wall Street Journal, “Temporary Workers and the 21st Century Economy,” by Jody Greenstone Miller. It foresees a world where most people have several part-time jobs rather than one for 40 (plus) hours every week.  She comments that “The White House is turning its nose up at last month’s spurt in temporary work—the one bright spot in an otherwise grim jobs report. It claims that such work is proof that the economy is still malfunctioning. The truth is that this surge in temporary workers is not only good news for the economy, it’s the future of the 21st century labor market. If Washington wants to jump start job growth for the 3.5 million white-collar workers who have lost jobs in this recession, it should start by scrapping the outdated legal and regulatory hurdles to temporary work.”

The comments are fascinating with many of them being hostile. Many people see this trend as being anti-union, exploitative of workers and encouraging disloyal employees. We of course disagree with all of those viewpoints. In fact I was talking with the TUC recently and making the point that this development provides them with an opportunity of providing services to a new group of people many of whom currently have no contact or interest in belonging to a union.

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1 J S December 19, 2009 at 1:31 am

I am one of these workers – executive rank for a start up company (in the old-line US automotive sector). Reasons for me is family and time flexibility for multiple businesses. The health care concern factor is there, but it’s not insurmountable.

The big issue with client’s full-time personnel is some jealousy – you might be working hard for a few hours they see you, then you’re engaged in other activities (which they ‘assume’ is off golfing etc – and you might be). But they are not in the office when later that same day you’re dealing with a supply plant on the other side of the globe from 10pm to 1am.

Then too, some spouses are less than thrilled with those evening calls, emails, and reports that can be part of this brave new business model.

However, there are days you can make it to the kids’ school play or drop them off at school yourself.

2 Barrie Hopson December 21, 2009 at 8:10 pm

We do make a big point in our book that portfolio careers are not for everyone. You mention some of the problems. But only 1 out of 40 people we have now interviewed have said that they would wish to return to a single track career. So if it works for you – hang on in there!

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