Editor’s Note: Rethinking employment security

March 23, 2014

I get loads of grief, and a dose of pity, from my car-less urban-dwelling colleagues who can’t imagine how I tolerate life commuting in the tiny steel cage that is my car.

What they don’t know if that my CR-Z actually doubles as my rolling classroom. Each week, I load up the iPod with all sorts of podcasts and other fare to pass the time when the regular radio starts to drone on.

I learn a lot in my solitude. I heard an interview the other day with Jeffrey A. Joerres, chief executive of the giant temp and recruiting agency ManpowerGroup, arguing that we had entered an era when companies can no longer promise job security. Businesses are simply changing too quickly, and in ways that can’t always be predicted.

As a result, today’s corporate landscape requires an agile workforce, able to continually adjust to new demands, mixing and matching skill sets for the work to be done.

One casualty of such churn is loyalty. When companies can’t provide stable work, who can blame employees for hopping from opportunity to opportunity?

Joerres suggests a new paradigm is needed. He calls it employment security. By employment security, he means that after working for a company for several years, you should have acquired the necessary skills to be marketable for a new job and continue your march up the career ladder.

Too often, the onus for ensuring one’s employment security falls on the employee. To achieve true employment security, we must rethink how we deliver education and career training, especially as life spans increase and we find ourselves working longer and longer. The fast pace of technological change practically demands it.

Honestly, is four years of college sufficient if we know we are going to work 50 years or more?

This is more than a question for schools. Companies and employees may need to recalibrate what benefits they consider important. What’s more valuable long-term: a 401(k) match or tuition reimbursement?

I’m not sure I know the right balance. But I have plenty of time to ponder as I work my way through my curriculum on wheels.

Dan Beyers is the founding editor of Capital Business, The Washington Post’s go-to source for news about the region’s business community.
Continue reading
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Business

business

capitalbusiness

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters