The answer to the question depends upon how we define career jobs.
Back in the 1980s, a series of shocks hit the U.S. economy: increased worldwide competition, rapid technological change, and corporate mergers. These led to layoffs throughout American industry.
Initially, blue-collar industrial workers, often unionized, bore the brunt of the permanent job losses. However, starting in the late 1980s as other workplaces introduced new technology, educated white-collar workers also racked up significant increases in permanent job loss.
The year 2000. Now, educated professionals (including engineers) and managerial employees are also feeling the pain of downsizing, many of whom once believed they were immune from job loss. In fact, in this new era of flatter organizations, corporate mergers, increasing competition, and information technology improvements, professionals often serve as targets for organizational change in order to improve the company's bottom line.
At the same time, non-standard employment, such as temporary, part-time, consulting, or contractual jobs, is increasing.
Market individualism. Both the shift in worker inducements and the rise of non-traditional jobs are breeding a new concept of "market individualism," which is also known as the free-agent syndrome. This concept is most active in high-tech areas such as Silicon Valley. In such places, employees are beginning to resemble 19th century craft workers. Such workers treasured their autonomy and hedged their labor market risk by being at the right place at the right time with the appropriate skills.
Today, there is a widespread feeling, often supported by the interpretation of the news media, that we are moving into an economy made up of short-term jobs, indifferent employers, and disloyal employees.
Once, nearly everyone defined "career jobs" as those positions to which employees could devote their entire working lives with one employer and with little concern for job security. Career jobs in that context still exist, but they are disappearing.
The central driving force in the new era is the reallocation of risk between employers and employees. In this context, there are many career-type jobs for those who are qualified and are willing to forego old-era job security for job security in the new era.
Employees in the new era must think of their relationship to their jobs as if they were independent craft workers. They must value their autonomy and be willing to hedge their labor market risk by acquiring and maintaining up-to-date skills. They must realize that they are responsible for their own job security as well as most other aspects of their lives, regardless of how the economy might change.
| Ask the manager Q: Is there some sort of barometer that will indicate how innovative our organization can be?
A: Yes, according to Debra M. Amidon of Entovation International Ltd. Answer yes or no to the following questions:
Has one person been chartered with the overall responsibility to manage the corporate-wide innovation process?
Are there performance measures, both tangible and intangible, to assess the quality of your innovation practices?
Do your training educational programs have provisions to incubate and spin-out new products and businesses?
Does your local, regional, or international presence operate as a distributed network, which learns from, as well as distributes to, customers?
Is there a formal intelligence gathering strategy to monitor the positioning of both current and potential competitors?
Does the rate of production of new products and services exceed the norms of your industry and create new markets where you can excel?
Does your marketing image portray an organization with the capacity to create and move ideas into the marketplace to make your customers successful?
Have resources been allocated to articulate a compelling vision internally and share company expertise externally?
Is your computer communications capability treated as a learning tool for internal conferencing and external business leverage on the web?
Seven or more positive responses means you probably have a good handle on innovation in your company. The more frequently you answer no, the more you might need to review your processes for leveraging your intellectual capital.