Improvise, Adapt, Overcome Part II
As mentioned in my previous post, I am preparing for a September presentation to our local BENG Chapter. My audience is composed of Senior Executives in transition and career development professionals. These folks are savvy professionals who understand business strategy. My objective is to help them to become better prepared to evaluate their options. I expect to learn from them as well. The title for my presentation/discussion is “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.” I have it on good authority that this is a motivational phrase used by the Marines. You may recall Clint Eastwood's character in the movie "Heartbreak Ridge," Gunnery Sergeant Highway, used this phrase often while training his Recon Marines. This title seems appropriate.
We are in a period of slow growth, and historically low workforce participation. The current administration has focused on adding new regulations to business, a disincentive to growth and employment. Notwithstanding the officially reported unemployment rate of 4.9%, recent College graduates, saddled with heavy debt cannot find jobs. Many employees are working multiple, minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. Productivity, the engine for wage increases, has been low to nil. Globalism has moved manufacturing facilities to lower-cost, developing countries. The good news is that inflation isn't much of an issue, and the cost of petroleum products is very low.
If one looks at the environment from a broader perspective, the effects of the Digital Revolution become more evident. The Digital Age is about increased automation (productivity) and connectivity (communication). This powerful combination should lead to continued innovation and social change. We are becoming more connected via the internet. Systems and applications are helping companies become more productive, requiring fewer employees. Many occupations are fading away. The ranks of the long-term unemployed may be growing into a permanent underclass. Job tenures are shrinking to the point that soon, the average will be close to two years. By 2020, it is forecasted that 25% of workers will be 1099 employees.
The Bank of England recently presented a report predicting the occupations likely to be impacted by automation. Sectors they forecast to be most impacted are skilled trades; caring, leisure, and other services; sales and customer service; process, plant, and machine operatives; Associate professionals and technical; administrative and secretarial. Occupational categories less likely to affected by automation are professionals, managerial, directors, and senior executives. Also, occupations that require a lot of creativity and human interaction, like interior design and decorating may be more difficult to automate.
The outlook I just presented seems bleak, however, it is not all bad news. Just take a look at CNBC’s Disrupter 50. A lot of innovation is occurring in the fields of Bio-Technology/Food Technology; Space Travel; Transportation/Logistics; Intelligence/Marketing Research; Financial Services ; Cyber Warfare/Intelligence; and Telecom. This information points to opportunities for managing your career.
Their tools and support will become more automated, so they will need less staff to support their services. Senior Executives, Planners, and highly creative personnel will likely be in demand, but here again, they will have more tools and less need for support staff. The trend to flatter organizations will continue, reducing the opportunity for middle management. The ranks of 1099 employment base will swell requiring government intervention to support these folks. The demand for professionals with STEM backgrounds will continue to facilitate innovation. We are moving rapidly into an “ad hoc” employment paradigm. We must adapt to the Freelance Economy.
So what of my fellow Boomers? Throughout our careers, we have learned to improvise, adapt, and overcome. We have the skill set to adapt, but I wonder if we have the mindset.
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Jim Weber, President
Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal
New Century Dynamics Executive Search
1. GM, Private Club based in Southeast, Confidential Search: New
2. Director of Business Development, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company: New
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