This is the title of a very informative article by Helen Rumbelow in the Times 2 section on March 16. She picks up well on the idea that in the last century people who adopted this career pattern were considered to be fly by nights and diletantes. She talks about the debt we owe to Charles Handy in now having the word portfolio careers that we can all relate to. Shame she has adoped an American expression which now has largely disappeared from their lexicon and been replaced by our term ‘portfolio careers’. As Katie and I were completing our book in 2009 we became aware of a US book written by Marci Alboher on the same topic but to which she refers to as slash careers. We did tell her that we were working on a similar book with reference to the UK approach to portfolio careers and why we would and could not use the term ‘slash’ in the UK. Over here it has an unfortunate connatation which links it to a toilet activity!
But Marci and indeed Helen provide lots of examples of people who really cannot find one job that enables them to utilise all of their skills, taps in to all of their values and allows them to create a work/life blend that they desire. Helen is also correct in pointing out that the ONS has difficulty in putting a noumber on how many portfolio workers there are. Shame as it is a rapidly growing trend and seems to have most appeal to the Gen Y’s and to the 60+’s. We know that around 2 million people have more than one job and that the majority do not seem to have been forced into this for monetry reasons but because they wish to live with a variety of work roles. 41/2 million people are self employed and you can bet that a number of them have portfolio careers.
Helen also raises the issue that some economists and certainly some politiicians like to claim that these are not ‘ real jobs’ and only pursued because there are insufficint ‘full time’ jobs available. We also know that having more than one job gives a person more security than having your life dependent on one job only.
In addition we found that one of the big pluses of owning up to having a portfolio career was that it gave people an interesting answer to that dreadful old question as to “what do you do?” Which of course is why we gave the book that title.
But please Helen – no more references to ‘slasher careers’ ……………