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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Job Security



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.

-Sixbears

14 comments:

  1. When I was a ninth grader in junior high, I just wanted to be a farmer like my dad, but we were expected to research something like six different jobs that would interest us and do reports on them for the guidance counselor. So, I found six different ways to describe farming, approached it from six different angles and handed in my reports. That met the counselor's requirements, so she was as happy as a clam and never said a word. Talk about wasted tax-payer money!

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    1. I suspected something was off as it looked like my guidance counselor seemed to really hate his job.

      In the ninth grade you knew how to game the system.

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  2. In today's economy, having multiple streams of income and LIVING BELOW YOUR MEANS is the way to multiply wealth. A small modest home vs. the McMansion that keeps you in the yoke until you die. I hope the Trump era brings jobs back to the U.S. I only hope the U.S. workers is ready for the challenges.

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    1. I suspect interesting times are ahead of us.

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  3. Few welders jobs are outsourced to China either. I'm not talking production line welders (those are done by machines) but real, honest to god welders jobs.

    Other stuff like that is Truck Driving (shippers are SCREAMING for drivers) and heavy equipment operators...those can't be outsourced.

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    1. There's a real push for self driving trucks. Many of those jobs will suddenly go away.

      The welders I knew always seemed to have steady enough work. Sometimes they had to drive to distant job sites, but it was work.

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  4. I have always made a living as a carpenter. It was not really a choice, it is just the way it worked out. Years ago at your typical social gatherings people would ask me what I did for a living and I would tell them. Their response was without fail, "oh good you'll always have something to fall back on"... nothing pissed me off more... no ... it IS what I do for a living... It got so I could tell what their response would be when they first asked the question. It got so I used to say "I do nothing, I'm a kept man, I live off her" and pointed at my then girlfriend, just mess with them and watch them react in horror.

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  5. I must have been a real burnout in high school, I don't think I ever talked to a guidance counselor. Just a year younger than you, I was taking building trades classes when I received a college application, sent it in, and was accepted. Took a computer class my second term and hit it off very well with that.

    Been interesting watching the ebb and flow of jobs over the years. My nephews are doing well, three of them have engineering type jobs with the big auto companies.
    -Justjohn

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    1. Sometimes you just luck into things, but then you've got to make the best of it.

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  6. This is a wise and very pertinent column. Would it be all right with you if I post it on facebook - with attribution to you, of course?

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  7. you do whatever it takes to keep the house warm and food on the dinner table

    Wildflower

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