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Surviving the New Work Environment Through Learning

However, for the most part, the old employment contract has gone the way of the dinosaur. In the working world today, we must deal with the new employment contract. The new contract does away with paternalism and, generally, job security as well.

In accordance with the terms of the new contract, the worker is a commodity, an asset. As a business asset, a profit must be realized. If the asset is profitable, then it remains a business asset. However, if or when the asset becomes obsolete, it will be discarded and replaced. The process of replacing the obsolete has many names—restructuring, reorganization, down-sizing, reengineering, etc.

Thus, there is no longer an implied lifetime employment contract. The new employment contract may have a life of five years, ten years or longer, but whenever unprofitability sets in, assets (personnel) will be restructured so that the business can again operate profitably. Paternalism and long-term loyalty no longer can be counted on.

How can you survive in this work environment? You must become more valuable to your employer so that you can stay one step ahead of the reengineering ax. Learning new skills and continuing your education can serve as your principal defense against a short-term employment relationship.

Once this realization hits a person who has been out of the learning mode for many years, despair and depression can set in. The challenge of learning new things after possibly 10 or 20 years of non-learning can be very frustrating. You haven’t been using your learning skills, and you have to prep the engine, oil the parts and restart the learning machine by rejuvenating or resurrecting the skills and abilities of your youth.