The past century has been an era of unbelievable changes. We literally have gone from the horse and buggy days to outer space in less than 100 years. At the turn of the twentieth century, 90 percent of Americans worked in agriculture, usually on small family farms. At the close of the 20th century, less than five percent made their living by working on family farms.
The advancement of technology, with its need for thousands of technology related jobs, was the fuel that powered the shift in this country from an agricultural society to an industrial society. Before long a person’s employment was at the discretion of and the will of the industrial machine. With the advancement of technology came the evolution of mass production from one that was primarily people oriented to one of mechanical orientation. In so doing, a new generation of the unemployed has evolved—a generation that can be separated into four different categories: job mismatch, no job, entering or reentering the workforce, or no direction.
Job mismatch is the most common justification for people to quit their jobs. Experiencing a lack of fulfillment and corresponding low motivation toward work, along with a sense that they have chosen a field of work that is not a good match for their talents, are the primary factors that have caused people to quit their jobs without having other jobs lined up. The vast majority of these who quit their jobs are stressed out, even to the point of not wanting to go to work every morning. In some cases this job stress has been so acute that it has resulted in health problems. So, to ensure a less stressful and healthier life, they have quit their previous jobs and are job hunting.
Many who had jobs have become victims of cutbacks, restructuring, and downsizing; many have lost their jobs after years of loyal service to a business, company, or corporation. These layoffs generally are not personality motivated; rather, the layoffs are economically motivated. A business cannot afford to stay in business if it pays more in employee salaries and benefits than it collects in revenues. Sometimes these cutbacks are known far enough in advance for people to begin looking for replacement jobs. At other times cutbacks come without warning and have a tremendous impact on families. For those who have experienced downsizing, layoffs, or cutbacks, it’s much like a death or a divorce, especially if the victims are middle-aged and find that their work experience and expertise, loyalty and work ethic, or education are no longer enough to ensure new jobs.
This group has expanded rapidly in recent years. Some are homemakers who have chosen either to enter the workforce or reenter the workforce and pursue careers. Some are divorce victims who are forced to reenter the workforce. Still others have been victims of layoff or cutbacks and are trying to learn new careers or enhance their talents and gifts to become more valuable on the job market.
A large number of this group are young people who have little exposure to the outside world of work, so they don’t know much about what is available. They then tend to choose occupations out of ignorance or based on trends and the values of society. Another part of this group are those who have been laid off and have no direction regarding which way to go next, have no training in anything other than the job that was taken from them, or feel that they are too old to start over.