Welcome to the 21st Century workplace…

People who are still "employed" in the old-fashioned 20th Century sense have a hard time comprehending what is happening in this small town where many people have multiple jobs. Several visitors have asked me why people in Floyd would have as many as four jobs.

For the most part, these are people employed by corporations who have never had to prospect for business or never had to deal directly with customers. In an all too real sense, they have been insulated from the uncomfortable realities of life.

Some of these people are/were considering moving to a small town like Floyd when they are ready to retire and it is beginning to strike home that there may be some problems finding work at which they can support themselves.

There may be more companies every year that are hiring older employees, but it appears that it may take a few years before this becomes the norm.  Right now, I can think of only a few major companies that actively recruit older employees: Home Depot, WalMart, and Sam’s Club are the first that come to mind. There are many more, like Starbucks, who welcome older employees, but do not necessarily focus on hiring them.

According to several articles I read recently, in the past few years, more and more companies are realizing that by the year 2010, almost one in three workers will be at least 50 years old.

As this becomes common knowledge, industry employment may reach a tipping point where older employees may get incentives to stay at work instead of being shoved out the door.

In the meantime, however, those of us who have chosen a non-corporate lifestyle find that there is work available in many different places, but not a lot in any one place. This means that our work patterns are like those of a consultant, where we work for as many clients/employers as we can in order to maximize our income.

It also explains why you see so many of us chatting in coffee shops and other gathering spots at various times during the day. We are busily swapping information on upcoming projects and what work needs to be done. This is our equivalent of a local job exchange. Someone always has information to pass on, or eggs to sell, or needs help of some kind.

This is not a "retirement village" where we while away the hours between mealtimes. Yes, there are traditional retirees here and they are a valued part of the community in that they serve as volunteers in important local organizations and they bring a wealth of outside world experience to the job.

I think that Floyd, and the many smaller communities like it, are models of what the mid-21st Century lifestyle will become. I think it will be primarily a service-based economy in which the primary focus is on sustainable economic development through creation of non-outsourceable jobs.

I think we will continue to see an ebb and flow of manufacturing opportunities, but these will probably be more ecologically friendly industries and will be smaller in size than the mills of  the past.  It is a poor choice to embrace industries that rape the land and leave a lasting legacy of poisoned aquifers and waterways. It appears that the era of wasting human, ecological, and economic resources may be coming to an end.

We are rapidly coming to a time where skilled employees and a healthy and green environment will be given the attention they deserve. This is not something the government does for us, it is something that will happen because more and more people recognize that it is economically vital.

Meanwhile, those of us who are already working several jobs need to stay productive and figure out ways to increase the flow of information about part-time, contract and full-time employment opportunities in the county.

We live in a time when our employment landscape is continually changing. We need to share information if at all possible.

How are things in your locality? What kind of job prospects do you expect to see in the next few years?

How many of these prospects are under your control?

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0 Responses to Welcome to the 21st Century workplace…

  1. Tom King says:

    Thanks for putting a lot of our feelings into words, David.
    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  2. bob says:

    Great post, thank you.
    You asked “What kind of job prospects do you expect to see in the next few years?”
    The $64,000 question!

    I wish I knew. I work in a corporation, and I feel pretty vulnerable. I get great performance reviews, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.

    Robert Reich calls this the ‘Age of Anxiety’ and i definately feel anxious.
    I appreciate your posts, and I loved your book.

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