The US Government has just released last month's job creation figures. It was the lowest number in two years. This is a revealing and disturbing snapshot of what is actually happening in the real economy, not the one artificially created for the headlines. Our US GNP or Gross National Product, is based upon manufactured durable goods. Unfortunately, the manufacturing economy in the US has not yet recovered from the devastating collapse it saw commence in the spring of 2000. The recent improvements in jobs and growth are substantially confined to the service sector. Manufacturing is what drives the US economy and it is suffering.
Do you work in this market segment? Are you comfortable? Do you feel stable? Have you yet realized that there is no such thing as job security anymore? That concept is gone. Unlike our parents and their parents before them who could count on working in a selected field for a given employer for life and then retire, we of this generation, working in any aspect of manufacturing have no such luxury. Our job, or even the company we work for, could change overnight or possibly be gone in a heartbeat. The face of the Fortune 500 is drastically different than it was just 10 years ago. Many companies are gone forever or have been acquired other firms or holding companies. Many have split up and others are now manufacturing off-shore in China or India. So where is your security?
What is it that you can count on during this period of instability? Where is your value as an employee? Unlike our ancestors who relied on a strong back to work the fields or do heavy labor, we rely on our knowledge and skills. Our value, what we have to offer employers, is located between our ears.
Aside from your intrinsic value as a human being, a creation of God, do you offer enough real value your employer so that when the tough employment decisions have to be made, you are one of the people who stay? Do you offer enough value to demand that a new employer will hire you if you are not so fortunate? These are tough questions. We do not really like to examine these possibilities, but examine them we must, for there is no more job security.
I recently spoke with a man that I had not seen in some time. He is the Quality Assurance Manager for a large, well-known manufacturer of consumer audio goods. He said that business was great, but he was fearful of his long-term prospects with his employer of 8 years because scuttlebutt had it that the company was quietly building their first plant in China, due to open in late-2006. He realizes that even though their products are technical in nature and superbly crafted, the plant's operations were basically assembly and packaging, and those functions could easily be done as well overseas at a much lower cost. Over the past year, he wisely reviewed his options, studied for and acquired his real estate license, and has begun selling homes part-time. He saw that he had little choice but to take action now, well in advance of what may occur to the plant next year.
He woke up and decided to learn something new. Such a need exists for almost everyone else as well. This manager decided that if he was to maintain his lifestyle and have a promising future, he had to take charge now. He had to learn new skills, because the skills he had been trained in would possibly soon be rendered useless, at least to his existing employer.
Could he locate to another position in a similar capacity at another company somewhere nearby? Possibly, but what guarantee would he have that they same thing would not happen there. There are no guarantees. He was forced to take action and expand his skills now.
Some people are not as fortunate, and we hear about them everyday in the news. This plant is closing their doors. That company is reducing employment by 60%. Another company is expected to only hire 15 people instead of the 45 that they originally thought. It goes on and on. What do these people do now? They have to act fast. They typically have to learn new skills so as to be able to offer value to a new employer somewhere else.
The bottom line is that since we no longer have any real job security, life-long learning is more important than ever. What is this life-long learning? It is the concept of continuous learning. Many people go through primary and high school, possibly college and declare that their education is over. It does not work that way anymore. We must at least be continuously learning additional skills in our chosen field and possibly even expanding our skills into new fields. In this manner, we offer maximum value to our employer or possible a future employer who may even operate in a different industry.
Wake up and learn something new. Sitting idle and dormant will surely prove costly to you. There is no other real alternative. You need to get busy now.
Daniel Sitter is the author of the breakthrough e-book, Learning For Profit, the revolutionary "how-to" book providing simple, step-by-step instructions to teach people exactly how to learn new skills faster than ever before. It is what the author calls a "skinny book", a new generation of e-book designed for busy people. Containing no "filler or fluff", it gets right to the point with no wasted time. It can be read easily and quickly on a computer, a PDA or printed for later reference. Visit http://www.learningforprofit.com/ or contact the author directly. This e-book is currently available from C|net's download.com, the authors' web site and a variety of online book merchants. Mr. Sitter is a contributing writer for several online and traditional publications.