Brave New Employment World for High School Grads
by Dr. Tina Rochford
Family Matters, Vernon Morning Star

Once the graduation ceremonies, dances and parties are over, the High School Graduating Class of 1997 will face a far different world than that which greeted their parents upon their own graduation in the 1960's or 1970's. In earlier decades, jobs were plentiful, student loans and grants generous and readily available, and for many of their parents, travel was an interlude that beckoned between high school and university or the workworld.

However, this is the 1990's and as William Bridges notes in his landmark book, "JobShift," jobs are disappearing...and this time for good. During the 1980's, when unemployment rates began to rise, economists and labour experts kept telling us that the generation after the baby boomers was smaller and that there were going to be labour shortages in the 1990's. But-surprise! It didn't work out that way. By the 1990's a startling new statistic began to appear-by 1992, only 18% of the lost jobs had returned.

Bridges comments that the transformation of today's workworld, which he calls the "dejobbing" of the marketplace, is massive.

While this "dejobbing" is something of a numbers game, in that with automation, work which used to require a hundred workers now requires fifty today and maybe ten tomorrow. This trend has been particularly marked in the manufacturing sector, such as the massive downsizing that has occurred on the automotive assembly lines at General Motors. However, there is another shift going on, too. Temporary, part-time and contract workers are doing an increasing share of the work in organizations. For example, the Bank of America has estimated that soon, "only 19% of its' employees will work fulltime."

Our work identity is important as it tends to influence how we see ourselves, our socio-economic status, the people we become friends with and the interests we pursue. Furthermore, as most of us will make numerous "JobShifts" over the course of our worklives, being flexible is key. Today's graduates cannot realistically expect to obtain a job after high school or university and stay until they receive their gold watch.

Bridges concluded that the disappearance of the "late, great job" is a change which has already happened. Rather than feeling helpless in the face of such change, today's high school grads can take the opportunity to learn more about themselves and the realities of the marketplace of the 1990's. In this era of the disappearance of traditional jobs, rising college costs and an increasingly competitive world, making the right career decision is more important than ever.

Bridges identifies some new strategies for survival in the workplace of the future:

In conclusion, this new way of working exists within every field from electronics to international trade to counselling. Bridges stresses that we are moving beyond jobs today as surely as we moved into them with the advent of the Industrial Revolution two hundred years ago. Don't be left behind-turn your face toward the future and set forth.

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