In research provided by the employers’ group Ibec, it is estimated that students studying in the current education system would have held (on average) 10-12 jobs by the time they have turned 38. The same research also adds that up to 60 percent of students will work in jobs that currently do not exist.
Third Level Workplace Watch, the campaign rights group, highlights the unstable nature of work in academia. It claims that around 80 percent of researchers in higher education jobs are on part time contracts. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) warns of an income gap between permanent and temporary workers has increased over the last decade. OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) data also shows that Ireland currently has 20 percent of its workforce classified as being on low pay.
If the statistics mentioned are scary, then it is evident that the current job market and education system, along with the global march of civilisation, requires a thorough shakeup, especially since they are all related. Employers in the developed and developing world are aware of the insecurities that such instability on the job front brings. Also, the traditional idea of finding a job and sticking to it till you retire has changed ever since the turn of the century. Young graduates now look at jobs from the point of strengthening their foundation in parts rather than as a whole. Hence why job switches and jumps are not uncommon.
However, since employers are aware of the lacunae that such thought processes bring, they usually stifle employees by offering them part-time or temporary contracts that can be revoked at any time, without giving any reasons. What it also does is it affords an employer the ability to make employees work long hours without the possibility of pay rise.
However, not all is dark and gloomy. One of the things that the global banking sector meltdown bought in was a level of awareness. Even though it bought along with it insecurity, the awareness about working multiple jobs and bouncing from one workplace to another was something that was not there a few decades ago. In fact, young students and graduates now rarely speak about a single job for a lifetime. The idea is to go from being an employee to contractor and eventually an employer.
And this in many ways, is also a healthy approach to the workplace problem. Sure there are problems for policy makers regarding the challenges to provide job security and flexibility, but the optimistic outlook of students who are looking to accelerate their personal growth and, in the process of pursuing their careers, also working towards creating new jobs, is a very positive one.
The answer to the quandary of whether stability in jobs is possible in the current job market is not straight. With work scenarios and attitudes towards work changing, it is safe to assume that stability will be looked upon, in the future, in terms of flexibility. That doesn’t mean we paint off the entire workforce in one colour, for there will be a section of the new workforce generation that would prefer the ‘one job for life’ ideology. But the whole idea of job stability for the future will encompass many factors that include policy changes, employee-employer rights and duties, laws, and also the education system. It might not be the future that we all hope for, but it will be an interesting one that will redefine the way we see life in the years to come.