When you hear about the kinds of jobs many college graduates are getting today, or the amount of time they have to wait before they are even hired, it presents a confusing picture. Just what kind of career can young people expect? I have been an active working adult for many years, but I consider myself fortunate to have started when I did. In the seventies and eighties, new graduates were offered a choice of careers, and making the choice was enough to settle the question: what kind of work will I be doing for the rest of my life.
That vision of the future just isn’t there any more, unless you own your own company, or are a practicing service professional with clients. At one time, simply being hired for a decent job gave you enough peace of mind to allow you to think about starting a family. That also meant you would buy a home in a community close to your job. It meant you would choose that community because you liked the lifestyle it offered, including the schools — yes, even before they were born, you planned their lives into young adulthood.
Of course, this was not necessarily how it turned out, even in the “golden” days. Companies merged or went under, and workers were suddenly faced with finding a new job after many years. But the career itself, and your experience in it, counted for something then. If you were lucky, you could start all over in the same location. The disruption might not last longer than a few months.
But the picture has changed. It is now difficult to imagine that we will ever be that way again. It seems that there are fewer and fewer employers that offer what were called “white-collar” jobs, at least ones where a person could plan the future with the peace of mind that I once enjoyed. Instead of the “upwardly mobile” track, we’re seeing young families with a downsized future ahead of them.
But wait! I don’t mean to depress you. This country has been resilient before, and I believe that we will have that confidence again. It may mean that we will have to change our expectations of a job. Perhaps young workers will be required to retrain themselves because technology will make career obsolescence faster than ever before. We can adjust our expectations so that we can prepare ourselves when the times demand it.
It will take leaders with courage and vision to move our country in that direction. Pray for that.