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Between the time I started working on global outsourcing over six years ago and now – the world has changed drastically with the recession for American mid-careers. Some academics have started questioning if you even need a college degree for the kind of jobs you can hope to get in the US. It’s called Plan B.
Think about it, the vast majority of mid-skill jobs in manufacturing, software,accounting,non-contact customer service, non-contact market research can either be outsourced to technology or outsourced overseas. For example, this season many more folks used tax software than an accountant/tax preparer to save a few dollars on the tax preparation fee.
So you are really left with the high end jobs like nanotechnology,biotechnology, aircraft engineering and so on.These require long study in science and math starting at elementary school and not very popular among younger people, which a whole other topic.
The other end of jobs are low paying service jobs (slightly better paid than McDonald’s like retail,hospitality) which really don’t need a college degree.
US organizational acculturation during the industrial and early pre-Internet age for getting and holding on to these disappearing “mid-skill” corporate jobs was to conform,stay below the radar to stay employed for life . This is no longer working– as no matter how compliant and polite an employee you are – if you are mid-skill and mid career you could be history.
Thomas Friedman talked about the “Flat world” and Seth Godin talks about becoming a Linchpin. Here are some thoughts particularly for the mid-career and suddenly mid-skill employee:
- Recognize that the change is here to stay. Open your mind-be more flexible.
- Move up your skill chain- needs more training and become an expert in a niche
- Or move down your skill chain- sacrifice pay and status
- Move sideways on your skill chain – particularly if you are in the production function – try moving to sales or supply chain
- Think global and take work in another country where your skill is valued but may only be matched by purchasing power parity.
In Part-II , I ‘ll explain these points in more detail.