Goodbye Job 1

by on Mar.09, 2011, under History Facts

Jobs aren’t us any more; now we have skills and attitude

Talk to some people today, and you’ll encounter individuals who are proud to say that they don’t have a job, a steady income, or any real idea of how they might earn a living a year from now. Ask them what they wear to work, and they might indicate pajamas. Ask them their overriding career goal, and they might indicate lifestyle. Ask them what they do, and they’ll tell you that economists have given them a number of different names. They’re temporary workers. Nomadic workers. Contingent workers. Independent contractors. Contract workers. Outsourced employees.

They’re the vanguard of the new economy, a world in which people no longer have a job for life. In fact, as we enter the 21st century, it’s become fashionable not to have a job, but rather, to have an attitude: “we’ve got skills that are needed by the corporate sector. If they want us, they’ll have to hire us on our terms , even if that means that we’ll work for them on a part time basis.”

The last few years have seen the launch of the temporary economy, and the concept of the job and career promises never to be the same as a result.


Most experts agree that up until the mid-1800’s, most people didn’t have a “job” – instead, they worked for themselves. The economy, largely agricultural and entrepreneurial, saw many individuals eking out a living on the family farm or in a small-scale business that served the local community, not unsurprising in that most people worked within a few minutes walk of where they lived. After all, in the era of the horse and buggy it was difficult to travel any further!

Yet all of this changed as the industrial revolution took hold. The most dramatic development occurred with Henry Ford and the invention of the automobile and the concept of the modern day assembly line. Suddenly the workforce had mobility, allowing people to easily travel somewhere in order to go to work. Not only that, but the modern manufacturing methods popularized by Ford led to the large scale industrial enterprise, an organization which needed a lot of full time employees in order to function.

Thus was born the concept of the job. By the 1950’s, the transition in the economy was complete, with those who worked for themselves being the minority in an economy in which most people in the workforce held a full time job. The typical North American family was captured by the romantic notion of the Nelson family in the TV show Ozzie & Harriett.

Here’s what the world was all about, a place where Dad wore a suit and went to work every day, while Mom stayed home with the kids, Ricky and David. Hollywood also typified the nature of the workplace in the popular movie, The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, in which Gregory Peck played an office worker who caught the 8:05am train to work every day. Unswervingly loyal to the company, he worked in a world in which no one was ever fired, and everyone had a job for life.

Implicit throughout this period was the emergence of a deal that was struck between the organization and the individual – give us your loyalty and work hard for us, indicated the company, and we’ll give you a job for life. People worked hard, and came to believe in the company they worked for.

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