The Purple Squirrel in uncertain times

I’ve been on a job search for several months now, and I must say its been really slow everywhere. It may just be me, but decent gig are rare to find these days. I ran across a couple of articles which struck a chord with me in regards to the job market of today.

The first article is from Canada’s national paper, the Globe and Mail, and struck a particular chord with me in its description of what work is now for many, according to a recent university study. As a professional seafarers, it seems like its been like this for my whole career, I can definitely associate with these findings…

In just a few short decades Canada’s labour market has changed dramatically. The widely held belief that employment leads to economic security and social well-being has become out-of-step with an increasing number of people in today’s work force.

Research released Saturday by McMaster University and United Way Toronto provides new insights into just how much the labour market in Southern Ontario has changed. Barely half of people working in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas have permanent, full-time jobs that provide benefits and stability. Everyone else is working in situations that are part-time, vulnerable or insecure in some way. This includes a growing number of temporary, contract and on-call positions. Jobs without benefits. Jobs with uncertain futures. This significant rise in precarious employment is a serious threat – not only to the collective prosperity of the region, but also to the social fabric of communities.

Beneath this finding is another surprise: precarious employment is hurting everyone. It’s found across all demographic groups, in every sector and across income levels that were previously immune. Having a middle-class income can now come with increased employment insecurity.

The second article is from the New York Times and teaches me a new idiom – the “Purple Squirrel”.

“They’re chasing after that purple squirrel,” said Roger Ahlfeld, 44, of Framingham, Mass., using a human resources industry term for an impossibly qualified job applicant.

Finally ! I get the satisfaction of possibly identifying the large amount of frustration I felt, and probably many young engineers feel, while looking for work in the commercial maritime world.

Both these articles are not really “all that – right on” type of article, but again, it illustrate perhaps that the maritime world is always well “ahead of the curve” especially when it comes to treatment of its human capital.

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