The results are in. Obama wins. Congress remains divided. The economic forecast is still tentative. Optimists hope for compromise and momentum. Obstructionists start stalling for another four years. Is it the status quo or is there real change ahead?
In the spirit of the power of positive thinking, let's anticipate the future of the workplace and help to understand how each of us can help to make it happen.
Implications of the Election
What are the implications for the 18- to 80-year-olds, the "cogenerational" workforce, who are still seeking employment? While divided in opinion, beliefs and values, we know that the uniting factor amongst all the generations is the need for work. Whether unemployed or underemployed, Millennial or Boomer, the millions sitting on the sidelines (literally or figuratively) need to react swiftly to the implications of an Obama presidency. Let me address a few:
1. We're Back. "On-shoring" jobs may be part of the phenomenon. Manufacturing jobs lost overseas will return. Maybe not until 2014 and beyond, but they will be back. These may be lower skilled workers, but skilled nevertheless.
2. Green is Good. Technology jobs focused on green energy, green technology, basically anything green, has been part of the Obama platform. And yes, climate change is a reality. Highly specialized and focused competencies are required in this sector.
3. Obamacare Rules. Like it or not, health care reform will take on a life of its own. And new jobs in this sector will proliferate. Both non-clinical jobs in coding, budgeting, analysis, HIM, EMR, etc. and clinical jobs in nursing and allied health professions will grow. It's happening now. There are certifications and education required to staff these positions.
Add to these implications measures passed in states like California that are bringing the funding back to community and state colleges to help shore up and rebuild competitive human capital talent through skills based, competency based, and academically prepared workers.
The Post-Election Workforce Game
So the game post-election is clear: get skills and get jobs. Not all require four-year degrees; some require vocational training, some certifications and some licensure and bachelor's and master's degrees. But all require the workforce to build their individual and collective capacity to do new things. The Cogenerational Workforce does not have a generational divide around this opportunity. All generations are united in the search for work and impacted by the deck that they have been dealt:
· Seniors are returning to supplement their retirement income that is running out;
· Boomers are needing to work longer as the demise of the defined benefit plan left them with a 401(k) vehicle that never was going to get them to retirement in the first place; and, by the way, we still are working our way out of a deep recession;
· GenXers are the next generation of leaders in the country and in business and without the Boomers exiting, they have been "stuck in place" with limited upward mobility; and
· Millennials are still trying to get into the workforce. Many of them have taken internships, gone back to graduate school or have gone into the trades to supplement their political science, psychology and economics degrees which bore limited fruit in the job hunt.
Let's face it -- we will all be working longer and harder and it may be a bit stressful to do "both/and" -- our jobs and gaining skills. But it is mission critical to the overall success of our economic system.
Some might posit that the jobs of the 21st century require highly specialized skills. Further, they suggest that the Millennials coming out of college with their techno-savvy and unboundless enthusiasm are the only ones who can fill these jobs. Not true.
Not all the jobs will be highly specialized. Not all require college. Will they be different? Yes. But 18- to 80-year-olds from all economic backgrounds can learn these skills.
· They must be supported by strong vocational curriculum starting in high school and continuing through community colleges and focused training schools.
· This is a huge opportunity for the private and public sector to collaborate. Think of it. Jobs being created to help prepare people for the jobs of the future.
· And, members of all generations, it is time for you to up your game and step up to the continuous challenge of learning, growing and expanding your natural talents.
As John Kennedy said in his cry for public service over 50 years ago, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." It was a call to action.
Now it is time for all of us to ask not what training programs are going to be provided for us and wait on the sidelines, but rather to prepare for the return of manufacturing jobs, the development of green jobs and the growth of the health care sector. Let's get in the game.
Anticipate and act.