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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The End of - Full Time Jobs?

I was in Sydney, Australia last week working with Digital Education Revolution NSW Australia and giving a keynote and workshops to Secondary School Principals, all around 1-to-1. I was talking with Ben Jones who explained that he worked on a contract basis as do many Australians with contracts expired and renewed after the job expires or changes and with an expectation that this is how work will occur.

Thinking now of what is happening in the U.S. with a 9.6% unemployment rate, with much underemployment and disenfranchised people who have stopped looking for work, talk that many of the lost jobs are never coming back and wondering if this is the beginning of the end of the full time job as we know it.

Technology for all its benefit also has a downside in that it can automate away jobs. Just look at how many workers were required 30 years for nearly any organization and how many are needed now. A trip to the grocery store to see the advance of self checkout is just one example.

So many things have converged right now - globalism, high speed Internet, accessible open-ended tools, economic crises, more Americans working from their homes.

What if where we are leading is to have contract-based work everywhere, with organizations finding pools of workers to accomplish projects for short periods and paying just on the work needed, a truly mobile and responsive workforce without the guarantee of a fulltime job of indefinite length - but instead working by contract to do specific projects for specific amounts of time at hourly or per diem rates. People will be working from their homes or possibly temporarily from the organizations, using technology (computers, smart phones, Internet, conferencing and Web based collaborative tools) to work with their fellow temporary team members to accomplish the project and then disband for the next contract.

If so, we have even more reason to ensure that the students we are teaching learn how to be flexible and adaptable, able to locate, leverage and synthesize information quickly to solve problems, report and publish on findings, and create new ideas.

It's exciting to live now but the sand is shifting continually.

2 comments:

Csearcher said...

Who will teach usage and ethics of all the "...computers, smart phones, Internet, conferencing and Web based collaborative tools"? So, think about the effect contract work would have on schools - no consistency in support, long waiting times for technology to be fixed (send it out, bring the tech in), frustration for both teachers and students,etc. If you hire someone to teach staff something, they leave. Staff doesn't get it, then staff forgets it or doesn't implement it! Let's talk about outsourcing email, & the like, to lower costs and keep the technical expertise in the school full-time. No contract work in education! (1 of the 9.6% - out of a tech job)

Anonymous said...

Good points here on the skills our students will need. But I think this dynamic applies to educators increasingly as well. When I lived in NY/NJ 20 years ago, I saw ads in the paper for things like: HS Football offensive line coach, non-teaching and non-certified PT position paying $3500 for the season. Also: MS Biology Teacher, two classes per day, pay commensurate with education and experience. I suspect this was in response to the squeeze between (A) dwindling budgets and (B) high costs of union-negotiated FT salaries and pensions.