Kristy Dorsey: New starts doing it themselves

IN YEARS to come, this era might be known as “The Age of New Endeavour”, or perhaps just the “Working Reformation”.
'The concept of a job is getting a pretty radical overhaul'. Picture: Jon Savage'The concept of a job is getting a pretty radical overhaul'. Picture: Jon Savage
'The concept of a job is getting a pretty radical overhaul'. Picture: Jon Savage

It should get a moniker of some sort, as the concept of a job is getting a pretty radical overhaul.

As was the case with the Industrial Revolution, fundamental shifts are altering how and where people work.

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Mass mechanical manufacturing drew labour together into centralised locations and fixed schedules, but that trend is now largely in reverse. Many can now work pretty much from anywhere at any time, and good thing too, as conventional “employment” is becoming less the norm.

Most who bothered to give it much thought surrendered on the concept of a “job for life” at least a decade ago. More of us work part-time, more of us work from home, or on contract, and more of us work for ourselves than at any time in living memory.

It’s been a disconcerting experience for those who started out with a clear career path and a generous company pension scheme that no longer exists. But for the generation entering the labour market, this is the norm.

This shift in convention was evident during a sneak preview of a documentary premiering at Glasgow’s Cineworld tomorrow night. Entrepreneuring Is… 
covers five months in the lives of business start-ups founded by people from a variety of backgrounds drawn together by the Entrepreneurial Spark programme. Commissioned to mark the business accelerator’s second anniversary, the film celebrates the overdue rise of DIY enterprise in Scotland.

The owners of the young firms featured in the film undoubtedly have the inherent entrepreneurial drive that Scotland was short of in years gone by. Others, however, are setting up businesses out of necessity rather than preference.

Any great cultural shift is a product of its time, and the work revolution is no different. Driven initially by advances in technology, it accelerated in the grip of the gravest global economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The latest figures from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, which is undertaken in Scotland by the University of Strathclyde, show that the upward surge in new business start-ups in this country has been driven largely by university graduates opting to work for themselves.

Drill just a bit deeper, and the telling codicil emerges: many of these new young entrepreneurs aspire to little more than maintaining the flow of a living wage into the bank account. Starting a business is the only sensible option when all other avenues are closed.

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As the coils of the recession slowly unwind, some will seize the chance to take up traditional full-time employment. But recovery has been slow in coming. The longer it takes, the more ingrained we become to the new rubric of work.

Welcome to the new revolution. «

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