I was stimulated to post something on this topic as I give many talks on the future of work as well as on portfolio careers. Politicians are rarely in the vanguard when it comes to recognising social change and listening to all the parties at their conference jamborees once again we hear the pleas for full time employment, full time jobs, proper jobs. Already over a third of our workforce do not come into any of those categories. Generation Y’s (under 28’s) are already clear that they are looking for work in a different way from their parents. They want work that they love, working to their strengths, with close and professional relationships with their colleagues and working for organisations whose values they agree with. They, and increasingly the other age groups too, are looking for greater flexibility in their work/life blend. More and more people are prepared to work for less income if this gives them the work/life blend that they are seeking. Most people now know that there are no more jobs for life. Every job is now temporary. (You would think that politicians at least would recognise this!). Work security these days increasingly comes from networks and not jobs.
Not everyone wants or indeed has what it takes to be a portfolio careerist. But more and more people are exploring the freelance world, taking temporary and short term contracts, opting in and out of employment, starting home based businesses. The CBI as we reported over a year ago in speculating on work by 2020 talk clearly about all organisations reducing to a small core of ‘full time workers’ supplemented by a periphery of freelancers, part timers, outsourced contracts, job sharers and portfolio workers. Companies don’t want people for life. They know that each year will demand new skills. Some people – those with the right mindset – will be taught them. Many more skills will be bought in. The latest stats tell us this week that 83% of employers plan either to maintain or increase their use of temporary staff over the next 3 months. This in spite of the new EU regulations on temporary workers rights. 22% of employers expect to increase their use of temporary workers over the next quarter.
An interesting article in the Atlantic discusses identical trends in the USA. In fact, in spite of major medical insurance concerns, they appear to be further along this road than we are with over 50% of people now freelancers. Conor Friedersdorf states that: “As politicians grapple with the Great Recession, their obsession is “creating jobs,” by which everyone implicitly means “the sort of steady, secure, full time jobs that so many Americans had before the financial crisis, but can’t seem to find now, even after many months of looking.” President Obama hoped his stimulus bill would spur hiring and reduce unemployment…But what if our return to prosperity won’t look much like the last time the U.S. economy was booming? What if the future includes a lot more people working nontraditional jobs, stringing together freelance work, and engaging in various small-scale entrepreneurial activities, whether teaching electric guitar lessons or consulting for corporations? … While the economy has unwillingly pushed some people into independent work, many have chosen it because of greater flexibility that lets them skip the dreary office environment and focus on more personally fulfilling projects.”
A major cause of concern for us is that schools and colleges would appear to be doing little to educate the next generation as to what is happening – largely because this will be way out of the average teacher’s experience. This is not helped by the current governments obsession with exam results and policies which effectively are destroying the provision of careers education and careers guidance in schools.
This post is already far too long! But this is a huge subject and one we will be returning to here and in our next book.