Formal education exploded as we moved into the industrial age one hundred years ago, with larger organisations demanding Taylorist job functions. As the industrial age gives way to a networked age, there is less need for well-defined, cookie-cutter jobs. With fewer standardized jobs, why do we need standardized education, or even standardized training? [I know that there are exceptions to this statement, but they are becoming fewer].
This was my concluding paragraph on a 2006 blog post, Informal economy; informal learning.
Thomas Friedman wrote this week in the New York Times that a job may be a thing of the past, which I have thought for a long time now:
Look at the news these days from the most dynamic sector of the U.S. economy — Silicon Valley. Facebook is now valued near $100 billion, Twitter at $8 billion, Groupon at $30 billion, Zynga at $20 billion and LinkedIn at $8 billion. These are the fastest-growing Internet/social networking companies in the world, and here’s what’s scary: You could easily fit all their employees together into the 20,000 seats in Madison Square Garden, and still have room for grandma. They just don’t employ a lot of people, relative to their valuations, and while they’re all hiring today, they are largely looking for talented engineers.
The job bubble may be over. It didn’t last long; about 100 years. Now we have to figure out better ways of getting work done and ensuring fair recompense. It doesn’t mean getting rid of social safety nets either, but our policy-makers had better catch on quickly. In Canada there’s some discussion about employment insurance for the self-employed. It doesn’t really work so far, but at least there is public discussion.
Digging through my old posts on jobs, I came across some interesting links:
Jobs, which can be “filled”, turn people into commodities (human resources): “Being a commodity is inevitably dehumanizing, no matter how much they pay you.”
Our economy, with jobs as an important part of the social contract, is just someone else’s story.
Freelancing is still a difficult option.
In Let’s talk about work, I wrote:
In a networked, knowledge-based economy where initiative, creativity and passion trump intellect, diligence and obedience; being “at” work 8 hours a day makes little sense. The Internet makes “time at work”, an antiquated notion. It also makes many of our traditional management and personnel policies irrelevant. The recession has only amplified this trend.
Finally, this was my last experience in a JOB – I think that the construct of the job, with its defined skills, effort, responsibilities and working conditions, is a key limiting organizational factor for the creative economy.