I live in a region of the country where the steel industry is taking a serious beating. One of the largest mills in the area just announced they’re laying off 300+ employees. A local refinery’s employees have been on strike for more than a month. Going into the summer months, its not looking good for the community at large.
I am following the news of the lay offs via Facebook in a news group. As we’re trying to understand how things got this bad, who to blame (for those who want to lay blame) and how to fix it all, the topic of job security came up. Several decades ago, after a much bigger layoff, the local USW union put into place, a provision for steelworkers to get technical training and/or college degrees on the company’s dime if they’re laid off. The thoughts on this are varied. Some deem getting an education is a waste of energy; the company should not lay people off, period. Others, extol the advantages of learning a new trade or getting a degree and moving on to bigger and better things. It, naturally, got a little heated. I was called an uppity cow who would be using my degrees to put food on my family’s table. I laughed really hard at that one.
It got me thinking though. In education, where things aren’t any more stable than the steel industry, how does one’s outlook about their job vs career affect their future success and stability? First, one needs to know the difference between a job and a career.
A job is something you do to earn money to support yourself and your family. Its a short term solution to self reliance. You don’t necessarily have to have many skills to do whatever you’re paid to do and the company usually doesn’t go out of its way to provide learning opportunities for you to improve your skill set and move up the ladder at the business.
A career is something with purposeful goals for earning income. It is a long term solution to the problem of self reliance. If one works for a company, that company many times will have learning opportunities for you to expand your knowledge base. If you desire, you can take that new skill set and move on, knowing you will grow from the experience.
A person with a job is at the financial mercy of the person providing the job. A person with a career controls their financial destiny. The difference between the two is passion.
In education, there are many teachers who treat what they do as a job. They only get as much professional development and independent learning as required to remain employed. If and when they are let go, for whatever reason, they find themselves over educated for most jobs and under educated for others. They struggle to find new positions because of their limited skill sets and many times fall completely out of the education field.
Teachers who treat what they do as a career actively seek out new learning opportunities, carve niches of expertise for themselves and in many cases, create entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves and others. If and when they are let go, they rest their minds for a moment, assess their skill set, and usually find bigger and better challenges to tackle.
Security is important. Loving what you do should be also. Working, in any industry should be about the love of what you do, which in turn motivates you to want to learn more about what you do. When this happens, the security comes naturally. Not loving what you do for a living; treating it as just a way to pick up a great insurance package or to keep you out of trouble until something better comes along, almost never works out in the long run. Being passionate about what you do is the difference between having a job and having a career and the security that comes with both.
The stress of not knowing if you will have a position next fall can affect you in negative ways. Reflecting on WHY you teach and then deciding what steps to take to improve your personal bottom line, to secure your assets, is important. This time of year, every year, I consider what I’ve learned, how I can apply it, if I need anything new. I look toward the future, considering where the business of education seems to be moving, and how I can fit my skill set into that niche or if I need to start carving out a new niche. I work on my career security.
I had to turn off the notifications on the Facebook discussion I was following; the fear, anger and frustration was palpable. I was asked what I would do if I lost my job. I had to actually consider that; I don’t think I would ever be “unemployed”. My back up plan is ready for implementation and I told them that. They balked at the notion of having a back up plan. I was shocked. The few of us that suggested, gently, ways to prepare for the future were being pummeled. I wasn’t up for the fight.
Pray, please for economic stability in the regions of our country that are affected by international trade. Pray for those who are so frightened for their own futures they can’t see straight enough to realize they have control of those futures… not yet at least.
Continue to teach the children the importance of preparing, creating and supporting their own security.. however they choose.
Its rough out there folks.