The Future of Work is Here: Are You Ready for the New Reality?

work where you want
Photo: CC Ed Yourdon via Flickr

Why are more and more women working for themselves? The answer is that many of us seem to like it that way. After having children and running the show at home, most women do not like the experience of working when she will be directed to do things the value of which she thinks is questionable. In this, we lead the market, in some respects. 

Like it or not, the odds are that if you work in a big organisation today, you will be self-employed in the very near future. Professor Charles Handy saw this coming in his book ‘The Age of Unreason’ published in 1990, when he predicted that early into the new millennium there would be more contingent workers than those working for organizations.

Kelly Services did a survey and found that 44% of workers consider themselves to be free agents. That is not counting the 19 million sole traders (who were not included in this survey).

It didn’t start yesterday – you will already have noticed this happening

Companies several decades ago began to outsource functions like logistics, distribution, and shipping to firms like DHL. Legal, accounting, and advertising have been outsourced for much longer. Now organizations are realizing big savings from farming out graphic arts to local freelancers; web design to specialists; marketing and sales to third parties; IT to local IT gurus; the Cloud for data and content storage. The larger organisations of course outsource back office functions to a different country altogether. In my MBA days, this was called ‘unbundling’. This trend will undoubtedly continue.

Companies simply do not need the burden of 365-day a year payrolls, new government regulations, training, managing, and providing benefits for these services – when outside experts in each field can do a more cost-effective job.

Universities are still largely failing to help our children prepare for what is most likely waiting for them

Most of my friends have university age children. I gather from them, that many university career centres do a woefully inadequate job of preparing students for the “new” real-world challenges of finding jobs. Important skills like collaboration and networking are not meaningfully conveyed to students: they should be well on the way of developing life-long networks of fellow classmates, professors, sports team participants, family and parents’ professional contacts, etc. before graduation.

Social media needs to be understood and mastered for its power to broaden research, connections, and the ability to find and apply for jobs. 

Keywords and computers

Already these new entrants are finding that they need to be focused to perfectly match the job requirements posted by employers.

The application needs to be ‘rich in keywords’ to pass through screening software and make it to human eyes.

Traditionally, you graduated from college with some relevant course work and went to work for a company, which trained you for the specific job they needed to fill. While forward-thinking organizations give recurrent training, many now believe they can find the right person to start on day one, and hit the road running. Younger children are finding it all too difficult to get a chance, because there is a market perception that they lack life skills.

This is all about full-time employment with a company – not addressing the trend of bringing in contract workers or outsourced staff.

Freelancing is a different way of life, needing a different set of skills.

The job market reflects the new trends of starting one’s own business, as a contingent or freelance worker. Here is how:

  1. first acquire some in-demand skill hopefully mastered at university or as an intern
  2. brand yourself,
  3. do a bit of research into the organizations who need those skills,
  4. market yourself,
  5. negotiate a contract that makes financial sense for you,
  6. close the sale and start work.

What happens in the background?

  • You have to account for your time,
  • As you start earning you need to make provisions for tax payments,
  • provide your own healthcare – nobody plans to pay you if you get ill
  • start your own retirement plan.
  • Not only do you have to run your new business, you must juggle effectively.

That means you need to actively network and do research to find your next job, and market yourself to the new organisation, without missing the deadline on your current workload.

Otherwise there will be a gap in income, something else you need to plan for.

The global skills set is changing, and we are already seeing how that is changing the workplace. 

The question is, are we preparing our children for what the market place is likely to hold for them?

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