The question jumped out at me in this article about the wide open spaces in Mongolia. It’s a question a nomadic herder asks. It may seem quaint to us these days but it is something that was accepted for generations. In my new book, Silicon Collar I point out
For eons, many of us have derived our self-esteem from our work lives. In fact, many of us continue with names which reflect the trades of our ancestors. It could be the Chinese Chong (derived from bow maker), the English Weaver, the Egyptian El-Mofti (from Arabic for legal expert), German Baumgartner (related to orchard), or the Indian Bhattacharya (from Sanskrit for teacher)—and there are thousands of other names derived from occupations in various societies.
In contrast, I point out the breathtaking choices of occupations we have these days and the chance for most of us to get second and later acts in our careers
Never before in history have we had so many career choices. As we saw in Chapter 10, The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies workers into one of 840 detailed occupations, in accordance with the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. CareerPlanners.com does an even more granular listing of job descriptions, and lists 12,000 separate jobs.
We are also not staying long in our jobs. Anecdotally, you hear the average American holds seven jobs in their careers. According to the BLS, the average person born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held 11.7 jobs from age 18 to age 48, and nearly half of these jobs were held from ages 18 to 24. While many think the BLS data is skewed, it is at least partially corroborated by Census data. The typical American worker's tenure with his or her current employer was 3.8 years in 1996, 3.5 years in 2000, and 4.1 years in 2008.
I also point out how dramatically machines and technology are changing jobs before our very eyes. Bill Kutik, long time observer of HR trends in his review of the book writes
Vinnie has a stunning case study on University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. It includes a short reference to medical-records automation, where we've all experienced the painful digital divide.
My doctors in their 60s spend so much time typing on their laptops that I wonder if they're listening to me. Meanwhile, my latest doctor in his early 40s somehow enters the same data, and I don't even notice. He's my GP and even answers my e-mails within 20 minutes through his hospital's patient medical portal, where I can also see all his notes and my test results!
Amazon is releasing the Kindle version of the book Friday in time for Labor Day weekend. I could not think of a more fitting tribute to our remarkable labor economy. Yes, we do not have our parent’s life time employment or pensions, but we have so much more choice and we have technology which is making work safer, speedier and smarter. Enjoy my celebration of outstanding workers and the machines which help them excel.