We have all noticed how the job world is changing. Together with the current recession this is more than a little scary for most of us. We have to ask ourselves how we can prepare for the change and adapt to the new working environment. Here's what you can do to be ready for the hostile new world of employment.
Survival of the flexible â€“ not the fittest
Nature is heartless and cruel. It has no sympathy for the failed and ruthlessly destroys anyone who can't stay in the game â€“ no matter how unfair that game is. But the strong ones don't necessarily have the edge you might expect. The surviving species of any disaster or changing environment is the one that can adapt to new circumstances. The sabre tooth tiger was a very powerful predator, bigger and stronger than today's tigers and yet, it couldn't survive. This was because, being so heavily armed, it couldn't chase its prey well. It relied on ambushing an unsuspecting animal that walked past some thick bushes. But the climate changed, and the bushes disappeared so there were no means to hide and therefore no way to surprise an animal. Game over for the sabre tooth. The lighter built predators had a chance because they could learn to chase. Next level for the flexible players.
Granted, that little story is over simplified. But, there could be a billion other examples that illustrate the same point: Survival of the flexible. This is no different for us humans. If you're working in an industry, which could be collapsing, then you've got a far greater chance of staying employed or finding employment if you're able to switch fields.
There was a time when people trained for a profession and stuck with it until their retirement. You didn't only 'have a job', but you identified with it. You would say "I am a teacher" or "I'm a mechanic" or "I'm a baker", but today and more so in the future you're likely to say "I work as a teacher" or "I'm currently doing some web design" or "I have a job as a care taker". I know the difference sounds small and trivial but the implications are huge. The days were we identified with the job we're doing are numbered. A job is becoming more and more like a temporary necessity. Sticking with it with loyalty for decades will not earn you the reward points it used to. Job security is a luxury that our future economy cannot support. So we must get used to the fact that our employers will drop us like a potato as soon as it suits them. I know that's not 'nice' but it is how things have always been in nature. I understand anyone despairing after they loose the job they're most qualified for. But today's job market doesn't care about despair. It only cares about what it needs. Thats not how things should be but it is how things are.
How to prepare for future employment
Remember the phrase 'jack of all trades, master of none'? Well forget it very quickly because being a master at just one field is playing a dangerous game where the odds are heavily against you. Instead remember the phrase "don't put all your eggs in one basket". Even those professions that will always be needed are changing rapidly. Take medicine for example, there used to be just doctors. Now there are GPs, surgeons, ENT's etc. And any of them are constantly learning to keep up with the changing healthcare sector and medical advances. So a doctor might not have to worry about the field of medicine becoming obsolete, but they might very well have to change the discipline they specialize in or at the very least constantly learn about their field. And medicine is one of the ideal areas to be qualified in. Don't even get me started on the car industry.
Qualify for more jobs than one
Where is it written, that you should only have one job? Get several
jobs at the same time. Of course they can't be fulltime jobs but those
are on the decline too. Part time employment is the future. The more
different sources of income you have, the safer you are should you loose
one. And you're less likely to get bored.
Best qualifications for the future job market
These are no doubt going to be qualifications that enable you to switch fields and allow you to stay flexible. In the UK there was (or still is) a university where you can get a bachelors degree in golfing management. People were defending this by saying what a growing area golfing management is. I don't care if its growing faster than the gaming industry and I don't care if its turnover is greater than that of the porn industry. Anyone who's so foolish to do a whole degree in something so specialized is asking for trouble. Hey, you'll probably do better training in golf itself. A good player at any sport is going to have an edge in most fields of work.
A good university degree should train you in a way that you can teach yourself anything else afterwards. For example, if you studied maths, then you'll be fit to delve into any of the sciences and a whole lot more. But if you studied something like French literature, you're going to have a much harder time spreading your horizon.
Another way to choose a subject is to look at how often its needed in the world. Did you know that there is a huge demand in medicine for computer scientists? This is because computers have spread almost anywhere and, even in companies that produce crayons will need someone who knows how to run and maintain the software they use for administration and online sales.
Another thing people often underestimate is the importance of fundamental knowledge. For example, computer science is often thought to be problematic because the technology is changing and advancing so fast, that people worry their qualification will become obsolete very soon. Not true, because all the underlying theoretical principals (i.e. the 'fundamentals') stay the same. Even if when we use quantum computers or something radically different, 90% of the basics will be just as they are today. Meanwhile, someone who has a lot of that fundamental knowledge is going to be BETTER prepared for changing technologies than someone who did a lot of practical work in a specific field (such as internet media).