Stand by your bed! National Service, waffly job titles and an exciting future ahead?
Posted on 30th June 2020
Apparently, a sizeable majority (two-thirds) of the population wants national service reintroduced. Although compulsory national service in the military ended in 1963, the idea that service on behalf of the nation might be beneficial in other areas – community service or other civilian jobs, as well as the armed forces – clearly has a lot of support. If such a scheme helped produce people with a strong work ethic and a can-do attitude, I think a huge majority of employers would support it too.
I wonder if all this is reflected in the general air of disenchantment that has resulted from lockdown. The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which compiles weekly data on the social impacts of Covid-19 on Great Britain, has just reported on a study of the aspects of lockdown life that make people unhappy. The results suggest that “big life changes…are being planned by 28% of adults.” A career change is one of the most commonly cited of these, with 42% of those who are unhappy saying they want to change their work.
On top of that, divorce lawyers are recording spikes in those seeking to extend their social distancing from their partner on a more permanent basis. This is reflected in the ONS finding that 38% of those planning changes are seeking new relationships. In addition, over one third want to move home, frequently to somewhere else (I wonder how many think they can escape to a “Good Life” in the more remote, rural parts of the country?).
Interestingly, another article I read recently suggested that there may be a day of reckoning coming for those referred to as “Zombie Workers” – in that they do jobs that are superficial and, at the end of the day, unproductive, or worse, actually destroy productivity. Middle managers in particular, as well as those nebulous jobs carried out by all those with what some consider incoherent and waffly job titles, may be especially vulnerable. Business and industry are going to want the very best people to lead/work their way out of the humungous recession that is enveloping the economy at the moment. “Innovation Sherpas,” “Outreach Workers” and many areas of HR and their like may find that the C-Suite starts to question their existence. As these jobs have proliferated, have we seen any corresponding growth in productivity or an acceleration in the rate of economic growth…? Freelancers may be able to take on a raft of comms and PR jobs, working on short-term contracts and saving companies £M in jig time.
Add in the UK government’s reported intention to invest heavily in re-training as the furlough scheme comes to a halt (more coders please!) and the fact that IT is going to be one of the industries that leads us out of the downturn and it’s not all doom and gloom. I know we are going to have massive short-term employment issues, but it’s possible that the labour market is set for a period of disruption and change that could help transform our society and economy for the better over the medium term.
Nikola Kelly, MD, Be-IT
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