The reason behind the working life change is that we are no longer interested in the concrete and material commodities but rather go for the digital ones. Traditional industry sectors are talked to be coming to an end as globalization and new technology make many consumer goods and services cheaper, if not completely free.
On January 12th 2017, SITRA, the Finnish Innovation Fund, organized an event, which they called “The Work and Income in the New Age” (article in Finnish language). The event’s main message was clear: the current efficient working life model, is about to become obsolete. Moreover, it is not a question about merely changes affecting working life but rather bigger picture as well. The discussions brought a valuable point that England encountered similar problems already in the 19th century when the industrialization took place.
The event got me thinking once again about the change in working life. What I find contradictory is that I keep hearing people talk awfully lot about it, yet I fail to see any concrete evidence of the phenomenon actually taking place. No one seems to rush into implementing these changes. The province sales clerks keep doing business as usual and construction workers seem to have plenty of work as it is. But what about younger people and candidates?
THE COMMON IGNORANCE
Perhaps due to my relatively short working career, the working life changes seem manifest themselves somewhere else. I think that the people who feel these changes the most are the young and the job seekers. The discussions are led by the loud voices in social media, mine included, which cry out how the robots are coming and take away the jobs from the ordinary people.
Surrounded by these discussions young people graduate hopeful from their schools and colleges. Hopefulness does not grow solely on the basis of their know-how and skills but has already started to build up along the schooling. This guidance includes repeating the traditional “This is how you enter the working life” concept. It has cunningly been included as part of the lectures and sales pitches, if only to get new students enrolled.
Following this pattern today does not guarantee access to working life anymore. The learning responsibility has been transferred to the individual and the focus has shifted to the pure know-how. To recap, the principal concept of “This is how you enter the working life” goes like this: first the worker starts off as a strawberry picker, then he or she becomes a helping hand at the construction site, after which the individual sets off to continue his or her studies towards the “real working life” and then, lo and behold, they finally find a proper job. Or do you remember seeing listings similar to the #FirstSevenJobs -campaign in the social media?
WHAT IS ESSENTIAL IN THE WORKING LIFE CHANGE?
The greatest working life change might actually result from the fact that the future employment will build itself according to the individual’s know-how and what he or she expects from the future. As opposed to the current method based on existing working history or the received degrees and diplomas. Also, the ability to learn and acquire knew knowledge are something that gains importance in job ads. Someone asked a question in LinkedIn whether learning can be scaled or measured in some way. If we do not count school as one, the traditional measuring method has been through work experience.
The IT business sector is already showing an example on how working life is moving forward while at the same time breaking some of the old conventions. Going with your know-how first basically means that regardless of where you have learned to program, you will still get a job wherever you wish. However, for the applicants though the contradiction about working life change is that while we are still using the traditional way of work experience gained skills, at the same time we are told that it is outdated and already obsolete.
I do not know whether these are only my own thoughts but in my opinion we do not collectively know enough about working life change. The term itself has suffered from inflation and is generally discarded with comments like ‘well, you know, people have always been yapping about it.’ However, for me, the bad economic situation in Finland and the working life change get mixed up quite efficiently. Still, I’m determined to keep on exploring working life together with those who share my interest for the topic.