The Future of Career Development
Trends in the changing workplace have created employment practices that have implications for career development. Company downsizing, early retirement buyouts, and the growing use of contingent employment has led some people to fear that full-time employment will not be available to them. However, new configurations of workers and alternative work arrangements do not necessarily signify lost employment opportunities. This Myths and Realities examines the
differences between perception and practice as they relates to employment and career development.
Loyalty and job security have disappeared The new "partnership" relationship between employer and employee, which is reportedly replacing the old "parent-child" relationship, emphasizes worker employability. In the "partnership" relationship, employers provide employees with opportunities for career and skill development, and employees take advantage of the opportunities they are given to enhance their skills, marketability, and potential for continued employment. Philosophically, this employer-employee trade off is equally beneficial. Employers invest time and money in their employees' growth, employees learn updated skills that are reflected in improved worker productivity and increased company profits, and employers realize a good "return on investment." In practice, however, the cycle is not always completed.
Loyalty, which seems a natural outgrowth of the give and take process, may be too elusive to rely on chance. From the onset, organizations deciding to upgrade the skills and employability of their employees have been concerned that they could lose the workers they train to their competition. Filipczak (1995) countered this perception: "When people are happy with their organization, they do not leave" (p. 34). The problem lies in quantifying "happy," for in fact too many employees are jumping ship before the costs for training them have been recouped. As a result, many organizations are now developing employment agreements (contracts) that bind employees to the organization, ensuring loyalty on both sides. For the workers, this practice requires new skills of contract awareness and negotiation.
Most adults are aware of the need for up-to-date occupational, academic, and employability skills as well as flexibility and adaptability to changing workplace conditions. However, in today's employment scene, knowledge of contract law and strategies for contract negotiation have become essential. In a survey of chief financial officers in accounting, finance, and information technology firms, 30 percent said they saw an increase in the number of workers being offered employment agreements ("Your Life" 1997). "According to Runzheimer International, a management consulting firm in Rochester, Wisconsin, 44 percent of the 77 companies it surveyed in 1995 required such agreements, up from 35 percent in 1990" (Vickers 1997, p. 11). Initially,...