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Multi-jobber career changers & the future of work: Goodbye safety thinking!

Life planning, professional security and self-fulfillment seem important, but more and more people have several jobs next to one another or one behind the other. The end of security leaves room for creativity.

Goodbye security thinking!

A certain security in life, especially material security, is one of the wishes and hopes of many people in our society. So far, it has seemed to be guaranteed primarily through a permanent, lifelong job. But traditional company organizations are increasingly disintegrating, job profiles are changing ever faster, and personal working life is becoming more and more unpredictable.

This leads to the fact that the common, steady employment biographies as we still know them from our parents are becoming more and more flexible and thus also more permeable. Crises also show us again and again that we have to reckon with upheavals at any time. One job in one Company from vocational training to retirement there will hardly be any more. Flexibility and mobility, on the other hand, will be more in demand in the future than ever - and the courage to try something new.

Multi-jobbers become the rule: the end of the classic career

In plain language, this means that for many a repeatedly interrupted vita, in which project work, permanent positions or short-term unemployment alternate, would increasingly become the dominant way of life and work. Classic multi-jobbing, with several professions side by side or one after the other. This is becoming the rule rather than the exception. And offers plenty of space for creativity and career changers.

Thomas Weber from Berlin (the name is a pseudonym for a real person) had originally imagined his career very differently: After graduating as a graduate engineer specializing in communications engineering at the Bundeswehr University in Neubiberg near Munich in 1976, Weber continued to work for the Bundeswehr, first as a train driver of a technical unit in Birkenfeld, then from 1979 as a clerk for automatic measuring and testing systems at the Air Force Materials Office in Cologne. “I have always been fascinated by technology and therefore started studying engineering with great awareness,” says the Berliner Motivation its Career choice.

Change is when the résumé turns out differently than planned

But then his further professional life turned out very differently than planned: In 1984 Weber became a technical editor at a company for measuring and testing systems. “The Bundeswehr changed a lot at the time and was moving closer and closer to an industrial company,” Weber recalls. "I wanted to work in the private sector straight away," says the engineer, explaining his change. In the new job, he created technical descriptions and operating instructions for devices. At the new company he soon took over the construction and maintenance of a PC network in the area of ​​technical documentation. While still in the Bundeswehr in 1982, Weber began processing data on Commodore systems, then became more and more involved with computers and expanded his knowledge. After a few years in the new company, the first problems arose: “My Manager required me to work in Saudi Arabia for much of the year and at home to do that at the same time Network take care of. This double burden was just too much for me, ”recalls the engineer. Then there were personal problems in the company: “I have made the experience that career advancement depends not only on performance, but also on how you can present yourself in the company. That elbow mentality and that Bullying I didn't like it at all, ”he reports.

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It was therefore not difficult for Weber to become a freelance IT consultant and technical translator in 1992 independent close. At that point, I had already worked for a translation company for 10 years. “I got to that through a newspaper ad. They were looking for someone to translate instructions for use and manuals from English, because that also requires profound technical knowledge, ”he says of the connection to his professional field. In 1985 Weber also took over the network support there, so that the original part-time job expanded more and more to a full-time job. “I was then able to continue working as a freelancer,” he reports. When the company was sold in 1998, Weber and two other former employees founded their own company for translation jobs of all kinds from all over Germany and many European countries. The company now has two permanent employees and numerous other freelance workers.

Flexible self-employment vs. permanent employment

Self-employment has many advantages for Weber: "I can organize my working hours and effort myself and, above all, I am more flexible than before," reports the engineer. “While employees constantly have to fear that they will be laid off in the course of the next austerity measures, I can compensate for financial bottlenecks by, for example, winning new customers through price adjustments and advertising,” he explains and states: “So it all depends on me and not from others. ”But, of course, a certain courage to take risks is also required for such a step:“ Although I knew roughly what to expect, but of course I couldn't be absolutely sure, ”Weber admits. One disadvantage is that a self-employed person has to pay for pension and health insurance in full. “But that doesn't outweigh the disadvantages of a permanent position by far,” says the engineer clear.

Most German citizens seem to see it differently, because the number of those who dare to take the step into self-employment is declining: The figures from the Federal Statistical Office show that many people are still only cautiously prepared to bring about changes themselves. For young people in particular, a secure civil servant career seems to be the allegedly lower-risk path. Understandably, the desire for a supposedly secure job is great. But can we still count on permanent jobs in the future?

What does the future of work look like?

Experts have been looking for an answer to this question for years. And more and more often come to the conclusion: There will probably be fewer and fewer permanent jobs in the future. Figures from the Federal Statistical Office show that at least the number of secure employment seems to be decreasing. Automation and digitization do the rest, supposedly for many secure jobs to make obsolete.

Will the number of those who (have to) leave well-trodden paths and thereby dare to take the step of self-employment inevitably increase? Is the permanent job requiring insurance being phased out? After all, many experts assume that most employees in Germany today already carry out very different activities during their working lives - either one after the other or even at the same time. And the trend could intensify in the future, according to the experts, if more and more jobs are replaced by robots or cheaper labor in the course of digitization and globalization.

Lateral entrants on the advance

No wonder that lateral entrants like Weber can be found particularly often in the IT industry: According to statistics from the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, an average of 20 percent start their IT training after the age of 22 - i.e. after the end or termination of their first Education. The reason for this concentration is likely to be the lack of generally recognized qualification profiles, which also offer people without relevant qualifications new opportunities to build an IT professional career, as technical development often progresses faster than the curricula of the training courses.

But there are also career changers in other areas. There are even state-approved “distance learning courses for lateral thinkers”, for people who turn their hobby into a profession or who no longer work in their learned profession and want to dare to move on. According to a press release from the provider, they are aimed at committed, value-oriented career changers and creative people who want to turn their hobby into a career. The offer includes training courses such as natural food, social management, business start-ups, business management in retail and - a hit in the range for years - “practice for bicycle retailing”.

Meanwhile, Thomas Weber successfully made the transition from a graduate engineer to a technical translator without a distance learning course. Although his life plan was very different from what he expected, he is certain: "On the whole, I would do everything the same way again". His example shows that it can be worthwhile to leave supposedly safe paths and sometimes to think “outside the box” in order to realize your own ideas. Seen in this way, the changes in the world of work also offer opportunities for more fulfilling and varied employment. But even if a lot is changing socially: Security at work will probably continue to be a need of many people. One can only hope that these desires will not be overwhelmed by developments and that it will continue to be up to everyone to decide how to do their job.

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