Thursday, December 8, 2016
On the wall in my home office is an old cartoon. A young man is working on a computer. His hippy parents suggest he should learn the guitar so he'll have something to fall back on. The cartoon works because it turns the old job security idea on its head. People who follow creative pursuits were often encouraged to have a “real” skill to fall back on.
I graduated from High School in 1976. We didn't know it yet but the world economy had changed. As luck would have it, all these years later, a lot of my creative friends are making a living. Many of the ones who took conventional career paths lost their jobs.
Back in the day there were two basic paths. If you did not go to college there were good paying jobs in the mill. It was good enough for our fathers and grandfathers. The other common path was college and a steady corporate job. Of course there were more options, but if you showed up at the guidance councilor's office you wouldn't think so.
Well, the good mill jobs went away so the blue collar guys didn't fare very well. Their jobs had provided good livings: a house, cars, boats, snowmobiles, and maybe even a camp on a lake. Nothing solid replaced that. Many of those people lost everything. Some even committed suicide. Some committed slower suicide using drink and drugs.
The college guys often didn't do as great as planned either. A lot of those good corporate jobs went away too. Some had their steady jobs replaced by contract work. People made a living, but they had to work harder at it than their parents did.
A friend of mine had gone to college to study plastics. He even managed a crew in a plastics company for a time. For the last couple of decades he's been making a living with his guitar. Another guy is a struggling artist. Work is hand to mouth, but he has a house and a downtown studio. I'm also connected to a lot of writers. Not all are full time, but many have turned their writing into a decent second job.
As hit or miss as creative jobs can be, they aren't outsourced to China. Nobody wants to go to a bar to see a Chinese guy play guitar over Skype. Some things just have to be live.
I'm not sure what future jobs will look like, but I'm guessing today's guidance councilors are still giving bad advice.