Interesting article in the NY Times today on how the attitudes of workers have changed during the pandemic. Reluctant to return to their old jobs, and cushioned by federal benefits, people are looking for something better. Many, of course, are demanding more pay, guaranteed hours, improved working conditions. But quite a few are asking for something different: a path upward.
What many Americans want, it seems, is not just a job but a career. And companies are responding; surveying the job openings on internet hiring sites, the Times finds that mentions of "training" and "opportunities for advancement" have increased by a third over last year. Companies like hotels and restaurant chains are dangling, not just improved pay, but the chance to move into supervisory jobs. Some are rethinking what jobs actually require a college degree, allowing more entry-level people to move into white collar slots.
Careerism seems to be a big preoccupation in the firms I have worked for. Every time senior management offers people a chance to ask questions, usually after a presentation about some re-organization or another, many queries focus on career paths: how do I move up? How do I get the experience I need to move up? Can I get support for training? The project management courses I consider to be a chore are seen by many as a plum reward, and there is, I was shocked to discover, a scrum to get into them whenever they are offered.
This is one of the things that I find most striking about our world: many people want a ladder to climb. They are ok with low wages now if they believe they will move up in the future. They want the things that go with a career: rising pay, more impressive titles, training in new skills, travel to conferences or seminars. And also, maybe, respect and a greater sense of self worth.
I have said this before, but it seems like the main reward our society has to offer people who are doing the right things is a career with a visible path, however narrow and difficult, toward the top.