Making a Living in The Current Market

I have months (if not years) warning job seekers and anybody in between about the difficult times ahead and how the job market (and our most basic needs) will become increasingly difficult to navigate.

I’m not a pythoness, I just read a lot of articles from many different places (beyond “mainstream media”), take many courses on different trending topics and use my Permaculture/system thinking lens to check between the lines and beyond the linear cause-consequence thinking of these days.

It is not surprise to me then when a more mainstream article tackles what I have known for years: that the global market is down and will potentially go into another recession.

If you are a job seeker, either Canadian or someone who just immigrated or plans to immigrate, you need to know that Canada has lost many jobs in the last few months and may continue losing during this year…federal elections may sugar-coat this by many means, but eventually the truth will surface for everyone to see.

Not only in Canada and not only “current”: the old formula we knew of “study a professional career-look for a professional job- settle-and-finally retire” doesn’t work anymore, at least for a big majority of people.

The reasons are complex and beyond this post, but they include, among other things, the fact that professions are saturated and in the wrong percentage: every civilization, culture and society has always had a pyramid shape where basic needs, manufacturing and trades are at the bottom (because we can’t live without them), specializes professions, services and non-priority needs are in the middle and management and supper specialized professions and occupations are in the top. More than hierarchy, this follows needs: we only need an architect and a civil engineer (this is an oversimplification, depending on the project you need more) for every 10 or even 50 construction workers, trades and supporting services for them.

Other reasons are based on limits to growth in a finite planet of depleting resources, changing attitudes in response to challenges such as climate change, industrial food production and energy sources, etc.

So what can you do?

Here are some practical tips I recommend my clients:

  1. Stay informed and read between the lines and beyond mainstream media: all media have a bias and either hides or pushes an agenda so the only critical way to know what is happening and what the trends are is being critical and read from many different sources of information
  2. Read beyond the local news: in a globalized world, what happens in other countries may affect us much more than you think
  3. Follow the main trends: what’s happening with fossil fuels (oil, carbon, natural gas, etc); what is happening with climate change; what is happening with the economy in the countries that count most these days (US, China, Eurozone) but also pay attention to other places in the world
  4. Review your current finances and assets and make an inventory. Try to simplify your life and needs by selling and reducing stuff, household needs, expenses, etc.
  5. Move your assets/savings to local credit unions, ethical investment or use them to pay off debt and buy things you’ll need in the future
  6. Re-skill yourself beyond formal education: look into the market, when recession times arrive, the sectors that still survive are connected to the most basic needs. Fewer people will require travel agencies or cosmetologists when things get tough, but knowing how to save energy (or produce an alternative source), knowing how to repair things around the house and in the industry, knowing how to cook, sew, grow food, use waste and heal the sick will come handy and can become a source of alternative income
  7. Take refresher courses at college or university level to stay updated in your current profession, industry and an alternative one you like. You can also take good quality courses at low cost or free from MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) at places such as Coursera, edX, FutureLearn, etc.
  8. Check in your community for volunteering opportunities where you can get training and experience for free in exchange for work/hours. This will build not only your knowledge/skill base which can become handy in the future, you will build references, connections and friends who will be able to provide a supporting network for all involved. Having a community around you means more than any good job
  9. Think beyond the “working-for-one-employer” model: with employers cutting budgets and benefits, reducing salaries and switching to contract or on call-base, you may need more than one job and more than one source of income
  10. Explore beyond “being employed” and think whether you could become an entrepreneur. There are many great courses through Acumen and NovoEd to learn about entrepreneurial skills. Having your own practice/business may prove to be more resilient that depending on the employers: check what is needed in your community, who is currently offering and see if you can offer more or better services/goods. Areas that will never fail are connected to people basic needs: water, food, energy, childcare, care for seniors and people with disabilities, health, shelter, clothing and so on…
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