Both economists and government leaders have been saying a
lot about job creation. But let’s get real. As a recent article from
the McKinsey Quarterly put it,
America’s jobs’ challenge is a marathon, not a sprint.
We’re all glad that job creation is the number one national priority
and that the President has called for many approaches to jobs. But
packed inside all the messages from numerous sources, McKinsey says,
are five myths. The full article is available to you through my link,
but here’s a brief summary of the five myths:
- There’s a quick fix. Nope. The scale of the
challenge is far too large. Over the past two years, 2 million jobs
have been lost, many put out of existence permanently. That means it
will take more than 200,000 jobs per month for the next seven years to
get us back to where we were before the recession.
- The key to boosting employment is to help small
businesses. From 1987 through 2005, nearly a third of all jobs
were created by companies with more than 500 workers. The size of the
company is only a small piece of the pie. During the latest expansion,
most of the jobs came from service sectors, which are made up of both
small and large businesses.
- High-tech jobs will solve the problem. Green
businesses, biotech and other emerging industries, though part of the
solution, can’t create the jobs needed right away. Currently those
businesses are too small a piece of the business pie to ramp up fast
enough to be able to help, even if they have the needed customers.
- Higher productivity kills jobs. That’s a myth
also. Productivity stimulates demand for consumer products and goods,
for new plants and equipment, which fosters industry expansion and job
- Increasing exports will revise manufacturing
employment. The painful truth is job creation is not about
regaining the jobs that have been lost. Backshoring of jobs from Asia
and Latin America will cause some factories to scale up, but most new
growth will come from other sectors. The net growth will probably not
come from manufacturing.
So where does that leave workers? The article doesn’t address that
issue, but here are my suggestions.
If you’ve got a job, build in as much personal growth and development
as possible, and make yourself a necessity for the organization. At
the same time that your nose is to the grindstone, pay close attention
to the industry and your firm. If the future doesn’t look good, take
advantage of opportunities for which you’ve got transferable skills.
But get that new job solidly nailed down before you announce your move.
Still, it’s easier to move from one job to another, than to move from
If you don’t currently have a job, a lot of options are being bandied
about. Volunteer to keep your gray matter working and meet more
people. Go for a temp position, get smart and build it into a permanent
position. Figure out the solo or free lance possibilities for
yourself. Recent stats show that approximately 30% of all workers are
in solo or free-lance positions. So, what do you know that companies
might be willing to pay for on a contractual or consulting basis.
Often, the firm that laid you off will use you as a temp, part-timer or
consultant, so keep your network going (that’s tougher when you don’t
have a job), and never, never burn a bridge. For most people,
consulting is a short-term band-aid until they can find an opportunity
with another firm. Essentially free-lance consultants like me, who’ve
been in the business more than 25 years are rare animals. Oh yeah,
there are still $100K plus jobs out there, but they’re few in number and
they go to people with great connections and top expertise.
And last, if you can get the money, go back to school to further your
education. There are plenty of people with college degrees going back
to tech school because some of that job training is short-term and can
offer a livelihood.