View original article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/07/AR2009050704336.html
Now I am all for globalization. I think we as a country have been isolated for far too long. Only 5% of American’s have passports. But, as a nation, we are just not encouraged to get out and see the world. And I can understand why…we have a hell of a lot to see here at home. My problem is the way globalization has been handled here at "home."
In the US we lost 13 million jobs over the past year in shrinking sectors like construction and finance. Yet we’ve had 3 million new jobs created in expanding sectors with no one to fill them – they are still open and available. Why?
The skill sets from the shrinking sectors are NOT aligning with the skill sets of the expanding sectors. Healthcare is one of them. Imagine pouring concrete for 10 years and then learning how to be an X-Ray technician overnight. Skill sets need to align.
How? We need to retrain people in order to repurpose them.
And that’s my big gripe - Baby Boomers were never prepared for this shift to a global marketplace and the death of the Industrial Age. Since most of us are unsure of where we are going as a country, many hold on to the old ways of thinking and working. We were raised on a steady diet of John Wayne movies, “America is always the hero” history books, and a solipsistic approach to world politics, and what you get is an entire generation suffering from what Tim Davis calls Adult Resistance Learning. Our culture is physically trained to resist change.
We are waiting for the “jobs” to return. This is something we can no longer afford to do.
First the idea of a job has changed. Companies understand it is better to have a freelance, seasonal workforce than to be paying so much in salaries, benefits and sick pay. Consultants pay their own healthcare, taxes and retirement. Responsibility is shifting to the individual.
Knowledge hording is something that allowed us Boomers to gain status and move into the corner office. Today knowledge hording is a detriment to ones career as keeping up with the amount of knowledge out there becomes impossible. It is doubling every 72 hours. Hording knowledge becomes a ball and chain especially when learning new software. So having a team of up-to-date knowledge seekers becomes paramount to your career.
As entire sectors shrink, and those “jobs” move overseas, many of us will have to change careers. Auto workers may lose their pensions and retirement benefits (just as former Enron employees did), despite all the bailouts. Case In Point: pension obligations are so huge at Ford, if they sold ALL their assets as well as all the inventory of cars, they would have only a small percentage of their pension obligations. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
Retraining & repurposing people needs to happen now. As Alvin & Heidi Toffler pointed out almost 40 years ago in their book Future Shock…“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those that cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Just look into market sectors that are expanding and ask yourself “Do I need to get Trained for That Job?” If the answer is yes, then I suggest you get trained now.
Also start listening to Generation Y. They are also called Millennial’s and they’ve been trained in the global marketplace. With a completely different set of skills - they were raised to have higher self esteem, entrepreneurial skills and a voracious appetite for technology…while children! They are prepared for globalization…we Boomers sad to say, were not. But we can make up for lost time by letting go of opinions and start listening and get retrained. Unlearn and relearn all that you hold on to.
Look, it is going to get ugly as jobs leave the US by the millions - this recession is far from over despite Bernanke’s crystal ball. After all, if Bernanke was a sharp as every one thinks, he would have predicted this recession/depression before it happened. So I am not going to put any faith that our economy will recover in 2009. Instead I am a realist.
Corporations are looking for the cheapest way to get things done and use technology to automate as much as they possibly can. It is not a good or a bad thing. It is the bloody transition from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. Horse & Buggy manufacturers didn’t completely disappear 100 years ago, their sector just shrank. So, keep in the back of your head the fact that someday the factory of the future will be completely automated. So do you want to continue working in a factory or do you want to get trained to repair all those robotic welders?
Dare I say the latter is a cooler job.
Thank you for reading,
Need Executive Coaching? How about an executive coach with executive experience? Send an email to brad at bradszollose dot com. We look forward to hearing from you.
May I suggest: Future Shock by Alvin Toffler. It will amaze you how much he and wife Heidi were able to predict about today’s world. http://www.amazon.com/Future-Shock-Alvin-Toffler/dp/0553277375/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242055676&sr=8-1