Read it. And think about it very carefully.
One job for life hasn’t been true for a while, but in the tech space even expecting to have one skill-set for life may be asking too much. Jobs may last less than a decade before becoming obsolete. So how do we cope?
I’ve seen this in my own life. The longest period I’ve ever had the same job was the six years I did in the Navy, and that was … well, a while ago. I’ll go to work for a company and the future looks bright — and then the company gets bought and my job gets cut, or they hit a rough patch and I get cut, or they get a new director whose emphasis is other than what I’m doing and the only way my manager can make his budget work is by dropping me in the dumpster. Or the manager just decides she wants somebody younger (and cheaper) who’s up on whatever the fashionable tech fad might be — and those change every three or four years, so that’s the measure of the max amount of time you can expect to keep your job … if you’re lucky. I’ve been fortunate enough to have managed three career changes in the last 20 years, and I hope this latest one will see me through to retirement — but no way would I put money on it.
Prior to this century, experience in a field just made you more more and more valuable. But that’s not necessarily true any more, and it’s becoming less and less true for more and more fields as the pace of change accelerates. This is especially acute in the Information Technology business: Experience is no longer an advantage. What you knew five years ago has at least a 50% chance of being utterly worthless to you today; every day that passes takes a certain percentage of what you worked hard to learn, and just flushes it down the toilet. Unless you are willing to make your job your hobby, and relentlessly pursue it in your ‘spare’ time as well as on the job, you are continually falling behind.
Employers understand this, and it affects how they treat employees, whether they are willing to admit it or not. If you were hired to do A, because you’re reasonably good at A and they needed A when they hired you, but now they need B, and you can’t do B, then you are gone to make way for somebody who can do B, and it doesn’t matter a damn how well you can do A because they don’t need A any more — sad to say, they don’t give a shit about you, because they can’t afford to, now that they’re competing with other firms that are doing B. Too bad about old Joe, but he just can’t seem to keep up (and, tell the truth, at his age it’s probably too much to expect him to, so let’s just cut to the chase and hire a kid).
And if you don’t have a trust fund and want to keep eating (and providing for your family, if you can afford one under these circumstances), then your choice is either to attempt to find somebody who is still in need of A (and that will get harder and harder) or scramble like a madman trying to come up to speed on B even if you have no interest in doing B. And we’re not talking about Gender Studies majors or Master’s degrees in juggling, but simple productive tech skills that were perfectly valuable five years ago but just aren’t needed any more.
This is what is making the Welfare State almost inevitable: People get tired, and stop even trying to keep up, much less get ahead. They just give up. They just drop out. They think: I’ve busted my butt for twenty or thirty or forty years trying to be a productive member of society, and it’s all turned to shit regardless of what I do. The government will pay me (barely) enough to sit in front of the tube and drink beer and eat pizza, so why not just do that? It’s not much of a life, but at least it’s a life, and I won’t have to work myself into a heart attack trying to catch a train that is always leaving the station just a little bit faster than I can run.
So they’ll vote for anybody who will promise to make their handouts easier to get and easier to keep — but they’ll still resent it, and the anger will build and build and build across the generations. And the result will be another Mussolini or Lenin or Mao who will promise to make it all right again, just as it was for our parents (or, increasingly, grandparents), so that we will have work to do that makes us feel good about ourselves and can pay for the lifestyle that we are sure, just sure, we deserve. But the only ones who wind up with that lifestyle are the ones in charge of the machine, just as in the old Soviet Union, and the rest of us will be eating potato soup and drinking vodka and waiting for the Worker’s Paradise that never comes.
Not that I’m bitter. Hey! It’s free! Just swipe your EBT!