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This chapter is from the book

Careers: Hybrid Careers and Fluid Jobs

Organizations, careers, and jobs are changing at a rapid pace and are having a profound impact on how we work, where we work, and with whom we work. In the past, organizations were hierarchical, stable, predictable, and bureaucratic. Jobs were defined narrowly and functionally. Careers were stable and career paths were clearly defined. Most people remained on their jobs for a long time and there was job security. People mainly moved within an organization. An important assumption in terms of the employer-employee relationship was that the employer would provide stable and continued work in exchange for the employee’s loyalty and good performance. Now the picture is much different. Organizations are flatter and decentralized with less hierarchy and bureaucracy. The employer-employee relationship is short term and transactional. There are fewer opportunities for career and job advancement. This has resulted in hybrid careers and fluid jobs (see Table 1.5).

Table 1.5 Characteristics of Hybrid Careers and Fluid Jobs

Hybrid Careers

Fluid Jobs

• Extremely competitive and entrepreneurial

• Work organization guided by a set of specialized tasks, projects, or skills rather than a function or jobs

• No guarantee of a career in any given field

• Job security no longer guaranteed or assumed

• Frequently changing industries, occupations, and jobs

• Real-time measurement of work performance occurs

• Declining loyalty and commitment to the employer

• Employees’ work can be tied to the bottom line

• Skills and knowledge provided to employers on a temporary or contractual basis

• Work from anywhere, anytime, using videoconferencing and other mobile technologies

• Multiple career paths are common—employees can simultaneously work for multiple employers

• Increasing virtual collaboration—significant time spent working in virtual teams

• Career success means different things to different people

• Increased demand for complex cognitive skills

• People manage their own careers

• Freedom to move from one project to another

• Generating multiple sources of income is a norm

In the context of hybrid careers and fluid jobs, there are two important challenges for the learning function. First, as the nature and structure of employment continues to change, the demand for continuous learning to prepare employees for rapid change increases. Competencies can become obsolete in a short period of time. The challenge is to continuously develop a workforce. The second challenge is the extent of development—how much development is enough? Employee mobility seems to be rising, which makes it more difficult for organizations to retain employees after development.

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