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Traditional Jobs Keep Fading, And It's Time To Adapt

Is our future one where many of us will never have a traditional job again? A provocative new article in the Deloitte review on the “The Open Talent Economy” makes that sound like a very real possibility.

The article describes a world where “ balance sheet talent” (also known as full-time employees) increasingly works alongside contract and freelance workers in response to sweeping changes in the world’s economy. These folks are also supplemented by employees of organizations to which work is outsourced, workers involved in joint ventures who are responsible to more than one organization, and open-source talent–folks who provide free labor through crowdsourced efforts and the like. It’s a loose and ever-changing world where alliances between employers and workers are fleeting and ever-changing.

“Global markets and products are driven by accelerating innovation and growing scale, and they demand talent pools and systems that can be rapidly assembled and reconfigured,” write authors Jeff Schwartz, Andrew Liakopoulous and Lisa Barry.”Business leaders and customers expect agility, scale, and the right skills on demand. These new business and talent models look less like integrated factories and companies and more like highly orchestrated networks and ecosystems with a multitude of approaches to mobilizing, orchestrating, and engaging talent, skills, leaders, and ideas.”

Like it or not, many people are going to find themselves part of the growing freelance sector of the economy, the authors note. They point to the higher education sector, where the percentage of full-time faculty has shrunk from 56 percent to 39 percent over the last 35 years, while the number of adjuncts and part-time faculty has grown from 24 percent to 41 percent.

To some, this type of future will sound dismal.

But there’s an upside for workers. Companies are going to have to get creative about attracting, retaining and rewarding the best talent–even talent that isn’t a permanent line item on their balance sheet. They will still need smart, reliable, creative people to get things done, and there’s likely to be a lot of competition for workers who can deliver the goods.

Many people resist and fear the possibility that some day, it will be next to impossible for most of us to fill out job application, go on interviews and find “a steady job.” But for those who embrace the inevitability that the way we work will change along with the global economy– and figure out how to make the most of new labor market conditions–the future could be a lot brighter. Many talented people and capable people are underpaid by their current employers. I suspect that if if they try the life of a free agent, they’ll find they’re worth a lot more than they think.

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