The Quest for a Good Job By Lewis J. Walker, CFP(R)
Lewis J. Walker, CFP, President of Walker Capital Management, has had his eye on the challenges of business owners and next generation career development. His article “The Quest for a Good Job”, provides interesting insight about the realities of job growth, and the types of skills that will be required to attain future jobs. Mr. Walker also mentions our work to define valuable personal strengths that lead to finding the right professional role and the challenge of remaining relevant in an ever changing world.
Much of what encompasses financial planning revolves around cash flow. For those in their working years, short of retirement, “reliable and life-sustaining and future-building cash flow” largely comes from a good job wrapped into a satisfying career. What is a “good job”?
Good pay is a given but there is more to it than that. The Center on Education and the Workforce, an initiative of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, indicates that good jobs offer competitive wages and good benefits, including health insurance and retirement plans. And there is good news on that front!
In an 8/17/15 report, Good Jobs Are Back: College Graduates Are First in Line, the Center indicated that since 2010 the American economy produced 6.6 million employment opportunities. Of those, 2.9 million, 44% of the jobs created, are considered good jobs, those spurring sustained growth of our economy. Of the 2.9 million “good jobs,” 2.8 million, or 96.6%, went to college graduates!
In terms of occupations, the Center reports that managers, STEM positions (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and healthcare professionals, account for the majority of growth in the good jobs tier. The largest growing professions seek high-skilled workers, generally offering competitive or larger benefit packages. On the downside, middle-wage jobs have not recovered, remaining about 900,000 jobs short of pre-recession 2007-2008 levels. Lower-wage jobs, paying $32,000 or less per year, accounted for only 27% of the jobs created post-recession, about 1.8 million. Workers with a high school diploma or less continue to lose jobs at every wage tier.
Further defining a good job, the Center points to those in the upper-third of median wages of occupational classifications. Such jobs pay a full-time worker $53,000 or more per year, 26% above the median earnings of all full-time, full-year workers of $42,000 annually. A two-earner household with good jobs is likely to have earnings exceeding $100,000 per year, placing them in the top 10% of earners in the U.S. Good jobs are more likely to offer significant benefit packages, adding more than 30% on top of salary.
If you have a good job, be wary of politicians who say they only want to raise taxes on “the rich”…that may be you! You want to keep a good job, which means a constant chase to upgrade skills and stay current. If you seek a good job, have you developed the skills needed for an increasingly knowledge- and skills-based economy? Edward E. Gordon is the author of Future Jobs: Solving the Employment & Skills Crises (Praeger; 2013). Says Gordon, the United States, and much of the world, is facing a severe talent shortage. “We’ve entered a new era, where we no longer will see well-paying, low-skilled or semi-skilled blue-collar factory or service jobs filled by high school graduates or even dropouts. We’re in a highly-skilled age, where knowledge labor rules, where innovations and intelligent machines not only influence society but define and impact businesses and the labor force they employ.”
As a financial advisor working with business owners I hear complaints of an inability to find qualified workers with the skills and work ethic needed to fill positions. The skills crunch will get worse as experienced baby boomers retire in growing numbers. Maria C. Forbes, www.firepowerteams.com, a business consultant in Norcross, GA, cautions that concerning skills, while critical, employers also have to match personal motivation and natural problem solving strengths with the envisioned role, compatible with team and organizational visions. Mr. or Ms. Employer, you have a job description. Do you have a role description?
Job seeker, do you know what your strengths are and what role is best for you? A strength is a talent plus knowledge and skill, and true strength is a lifelong quest in improvement, beyond college or other form of technical education, beyond graduate school. What you know today may be obsolete in a year. Buy and read Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Gallup Press, 2007). Students and those seeking to jump-start or recalibrate their career should devour the book, take the assessment, and engage a consultant such as Maria Forbes to help tailor a “career-boosting plan” calibrated to one’s unique abilities and top strengths.
Community, business, and education leaders wishing to incubate the workforce needed for what is coming at us should read Ed Gordon’s book and check out his resources, www.imperialcorp.com. There are answers to the skills shortage but time is short!