Worldwide unemployment will rise this year. What should you do about it?

Worldwide unemployment will rise this year.
What should you do about it?

The number of unemployed people in emerging and developing countries is set to rise by 4.8 million in the next two years, according to the UN’s International Labour Organisation. This reflects the slowing international economy. The advance of technology and artificial intelligence will increase job losses, too. And all that is predicated on the world’s economy continuing to function on a roughly even keel – something the politicians and economists in Davos seem to have difficulty agreeing. But then, forecasting was always difficult.

Measurement of ‘jobs’ by governments and international organisations is rather out of date. The old concept of a job for life with a paternalistic company like Rowntree or Cadbury disappeared some time ago. When young, I was accused by an intelligent friend of being a ‘fly-by-night’ because I had spent only ten years with the company that first employed me. Today staying with the same organisation for more than a few years can be seen as un-progressive and lazy. Flexibility, adaptability and change rule – sometimes excessively.

More important for the measurement of those in jobs is the growing tendency to ‘portfolio working’ where you hold anything from two to a dozen jobs. In effect this means that you run your own business, your ‘jobs’ being your clients. There has been a big rise in this style of working in the last two or three years. The majority of those who have embraced it enjoy it and relish the freedom, the motivation and the fact that if you don’t like a client you can tell him or her to get lost. Do that with your only boss and it is you who gets lost.

Prerequisite to becoming a portfolio worker is enhancing your selling skills. As a part-timer you will have to sell yourself, not in the way a vacuum-cleaner salesman sells door to door but in a way that adjusts your potential client’s expectations to what you will deliver. Businesses increasingly like the portfolio worker. S/he demonstrates an entrepreneurial streak all companies need. Knowing that your employees run their own financial affairs tolerably bodes well for their handling of your P&L. Not having to commit to employing in the full sense of the word gives the employer flexibility, especially if it comes to cutting costs.

The position for the ‘employee’ is inevitably less certain. This provides added incentive to rise early and concentrate on the things that matter and not just pad out the time at work. It provides more stress which, up to a point, is good. Lack of stress among those with tenured jobs is what leads to poor service and bad commercial behaviour. Taking charge of our own lives is always good for us. Independence is one of the best indicators of success.

Becoming a portfolio worker requires a change of attitude to those providing the work, to the family and to the business of work itself. As with all change, it is not easy. The rewards are way beyond those of being full-time employed.

They are the satisfaction of taking charge and they provide exceptional fulfilment.