In 1995, the futurist and economist, Jeremy Rifkin, wrote a book called “The End of Work”. He wrote about the worker-less society and what that would mean for the economy and culture at large. It had already begun 20 years ago. We are now living this enormous change in our employment and lifestyles. It will continue to consume capitalism as we know it and create jobs that currently do not exist. The largest group caught in the cross-hairs of this change are the millennials. This group was born between 1981 and 2000. They are graduating or have graduated from college into a different universe. This new universe is a culture caught between old capitalism as it has been known into a collaborative world of access to “things” rather than ownership. Nobody has the blueprint for this change but the change is strengthening and expanding.
This change from ownership to access is the result of an “internet of things” build out. Jobs are destroyed by technology while technology and the internet create new forms of employment. It is critical for us to understand that “creative destruction” is already creating opportunities. Many of these new jobs will be labor intensive as we convert to “the internet of things”. For example, transforming global energy from fossil fuels and nuclear power (old Piscean Age) to renewable energies will require millions of workers and create thousands of new businesses. Re-configuring the world’s electricity grid will create millions of installation jobs. How about transportation? Just changing from combustible engines to electric or fuel-cell vehicles requires a makeover of road systems and fueling locations. Just think of the changes already in place for ride-sharing. On the horizon are driverless vehicles and robots in your home.
The fastest growing segment of employment is the non-profit world. Aside from those who volunteer, Jeremy Rifkin points out that in 2013 42 countries surveyed by the John Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies, “56 million full-time workers are currently employed in the nonprofit sector. In some countries, employment in the nonprofit arena makes up more than 10 percent of the workforce (over 10% in the United States)”. The surprise is that 50% of the revenue of the nonprofit sector comes from fees for services with government support accounting for only 36 percent and private philanthropy only 14 percent.
We can look forward to retraining of the existing workforce and skill development for graduating students coming into the labor market to help with a transition into new job categories. Huge build-outs and business opportunities will help build this new infrastructure around the globe. Students “will need to be educated for the new professional skills that come with the job opportunities opening up”. Currently we look at these opportunities as mere supplements to our main economy. But, as these continue to grow and mesh with our current economy, they will birth a new economic order. Capitalism as we know it is dying. It will take another generation for much of this to transpire, but you are living the change. Even if you have a college degree, either an old one or a new one, it is prudent to develop and learn the skills needed for this new economy. Do not dismiss the non-profits or the new little companies rapidly being formed. I recommend reading Jeremy Rifkin’s book “The Zero Marginal Cost Society” to understand in greater detail this collaborative life style and new employment opportunities.