Bringing jobs back is one of the current refrains that can be heard from the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He is referring to the jobs that used to support a middle-class way of life in the US; jobs which required a high school diploma, maybe some technical training, and that one job could support a family. The common reason these jobs no longer exist, according to the occupant of the White House, is that they have all been shipped overseas where labor is cheaper.
The reality, of course, is far more complex. Yes, companies have been off-shoring jobs for several decades. My hometown back in Michigan was the victim of one of these off-shores, and more than two decades on the town still has not recovered economically from all of the jobs that were lost. But a far bigger player in the loss of the types of manufacturing jobs which used to support a middle class way of life is automation. The risks of job loss from automation is continuing unabated; a recent PwC study estimates that by 2030, 38% of American jobs currently held by humans will be automated.
There are a lot of questions that this raises for the broader economy. These are complicated issues, far more complicated than most politicians are willing to admit. But what about those of us in the workplace? What, if anything, the American worker can do to prepare for the future of work? Are there any good jobs left?
This question has become something of an anthem in America in the last decade, especially among the Millennial cohort who managed to begin trying to enter the job market during The Great Recession. Though the experts maintain that the economy has recovered for the most part, they are also starting to admit that this is more of a jobless recovery.
Increasing automation, digitization, off-shoring are now the norm, and they are pushing more and more people out of the workforce for no fault of their own. This has massive and serious implications for the economy and for society. R. William Holland’s goal with this 2006 book is to prepare workers for the future of work in what is now often referred to as The Gig Economy.
The book presents plenty of evidence to persuade even the most old school employee that the days of working with one company for the rest of your life and retiring with a pension are dead. The book also discusses tools that workers need in this new economy, everything from resumes to networking to personal branding. I grant some of the information in the book is a bit outdated as it is now a decade old. But it’s a great place to start if you have ever asked where all of the good jobs are, and should be required reading for every high school and college student.