Do you really want to be called a ‘slasher’!

by Barrie Hopson on September 12, 2012 · 0 comments

in Future of work,New ways of working,portfolio careers

A recent article in the Evening Standard talks about the Slash/Slash Generation as if the concept of portfolio careers had never been heard of. This was the phrase used in 2007 by Marci Alboher in her book One Person/Multiple Careers.  This was a ground breaking book in the US as it introduced this career pattern for the first time there as Charles Handy’s label was unfamiliar to the US. I have explained to American friends why this designation would never  take off in the UK not least because of other scatological connections to the notion of Slash!  Hannah Nathanson, the author,  does not seem to have heard of the term that we are all now using here and indeed when our book came out 3 years ago was very positively reviewed in the Evening Standard. Apparently the Future Laboratory in the UK is also now using this  terminology. In 2011, it found that ‘the ‘Slashie notion’ had solidified and six to eight per cent of the population was holding down multiple jobs, indicating an established trend rather than a simple fad’. As it happens this concurs with the figures we have been able to get from the ONS which guesses around 1.4 million people have portfolio careers. It could be more as their are 4 million self employed of which a number would also be portfolio workers.

However, my main concern with this article was a quotation from Richard Sennett, Professor of Sociology at LSE, who believes that juggling different jobs may not be sustainable. ‘It’s harder than people imagine at first because nothing roots in and there’s no narrative carrying people forward.’ In the long-term, he says: ‘People want to belong somewhere and see a story of what’s going to happen with their life.’ My guess is that here is someone who prefers a traditional single career pattern who clearly has not spoken much to people like us who have found many different ways of ‘belonging’ to groups with whom we relate and network. Many of us, including the Millennials of which he and the author are discussing, are clear about their life stories that they are currently writing and indeed will go on to write many more over the years. This kind of comment smacks of political rants about a lack of ‘proper jobs’. The latest employment statistics are clearly showing that people are beginning to radically change their views about jobs and careers.

Ironically, Heather ends her article: “Clearly, the way people work is changing and through ambition, resourcefulness and skill, the internet-savvy Slash/Slash Generation is leading the charge. Only one question remains: ‘What do you do/do/do?”

We of course agree with summary and indeed her question (with our book we would wouldn’t we!). But do I want to be called a slasher? I think not.

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