Saturday, 3 December 2016

Recruiting for Development

A long time ago in what seems like a galaxy far, far away, I used to climb up the food chain at work. That is to say, my career was taking off and rapidly so. And the fastest way to make that possible was to get another job offering a higher up position, which is what I did several times in the course of a few years.
But yeah, that was at another time and another place. Things are different nowadays. For each advertised tech position there are hundreds of applicants, many of which armed with multiple diplomas and bucketloads of experience; the job market is very competitive. There are also fewer opportunities, but that is mostly the result of this former Israeli still eyeing the Australian technology market using old Israeli eyes; Australia has but a fraction of the high tech market Israel can boast. And me, I have changed, too; I am older than I used to be, no longer the type that would accept regular 11 hour working days and blindly do my employer’s bidding.
That is exactly why, in today’s job market, one can only get a new job for something one has already done before. From the employers’ point of view, why should they take a risk on some unknown guy developing and growing into a job? They want the tried and tested.
To which I will say: wrong way, go back!
My argument is simple. Can anyone honestly suggest that a worker can truly flourish, prosper and grow by doing the exact same thing they had already done before?  I would argue this is a recipe for grey, stale, organisations; not for organisations that seek to thrive in today’s ever changing scene. Especially not in the technology market.
By then way, a side effect of this  recruitment policy is that one can only climb up the career food chain internally, as opposed to by finding a new job. Which makes the whole thing slower. And, going back to the theme of being older, makes life much harder for older job applicants because these are seen as too experienced to take on the junior positions but, on the other hand, unsuitable for higher order jobs if they haven’t performed them already.

Consider this trend in the face of other, even deeper social trends: people having longer careers through the fact we now live longer and there is not enough money in pension funds to cover us all. Or the generic speed in which life around us has been changing, mostly through technological breakthroughs. Anyway you look at it, the implications are sad.
It is already the case where one can no longer rely on the same profession throughout their working career. People my age can grapple with this matter in one way or another; for people of our children’s age this is a matter to be taken for granted.
However, knowing that career transitioning has to take place and enabling such transitions are totally different matters. As we’ve already seen, employers do not allow for easy transitions, not even in the same line of work. Therefore, transitioning to another profession means stepping back in income and status, a very hard thing to do for someone who already been there and done that (and by now probably cares for a family and a mortgage). I guess I am not the only one facing this problem; that expert steam engine mechanic had to deal with this matter back when the four stroke engine made headway. But surely our society should have developed since the age of steam to take care of its citizens as they go through that mandatory change?
Consider the future of humanity under this specific prism. Imagine what things would be like when technology allows humans to live for 150 years. If we already had such people among us, how would our society deal with people who grew up to operate steam engines or horses and carriages?
Now consider that the world we live in is going to move into driverless cars within the manner of a couple of decades. In our world, driving is the most common job people do for a living. How, exactly, are we going to find jobs for the masses of unemployed people our latest technological breakthrough will forge? Or for the masses that take care of them through diners and motels? Is there enough demand for unskilled work to fill the gap left in this world? It doesn't look like it.
The only solution I see for this problem is breaking the equation we have been living under since the agricultural revolution. I argue that, in this day and age of affluence, perhaps we should disconnect between having a job with living entitlements.

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