Last week’s media was full of a survey that 20% of the working population fear for their jobs. This was naturally presented as a problem and another probable sign of imminent double dip recession.
Actually I want to turn this around. 80% of people in jobs obviously feel secure then. They believe that they are likely to remain in employment. In how many other countries of the world does this percentage of the working population have the luxury of knowing where their next paycheck is coming from? As you can see statistics can be used to make any point you want.
Naturally the figures above only tell part of the story. A number of people in employment obviously do feel insecure. However there is another group of people who know what insecure really means – people who are self-employed and/or running their own business. These have increased rapidly in number over the past few years as traditional employment routes become harder for many to follow.
A pattern is emerging. Things are changing. The old rules don’t apply anymore. Risk is becoming an increasing factor in people’s lives, even those who don’t seek it. This a complete reversal of the post war political and economic consensus (as I look at it that looks such an outdated term – for those that are not sure which war I mean it is the second world war). Uncertainty is back.
I can personally identify with this. Having gone down the freelance route I know that there is a big mental adjustment to make once that monthly salary no longer hits the bank account with metronomic regularity. You have good times. You have not so good times. You deal with it and manage it. You learn to be flexible and organise your life and finances accordingly. Same as if you run your own business.
Young people are certainly learning this lesson. Get a degree and get a good job? End up with a large debt and no job at all more like. Job security? What’s that? Pensions? Don’t make me laugh. More and more of them are rejecting the secure employment lifestyle (assuming that they can find it) that their parents aspired to. They know that in order to survive in the future a new attitude is required.
Post war British government has been based around de-risking life by introducing a wealth of social and employment protections. However life isn’t like that anymore. Risk is something that has to be recognised, embraced even, and managed. The next generation is starting to learn and adapt to this. And this ultimately has to be good for Enterprise Britain.