Will the Events in Egypt Affect My Career?

Jan 30th, 2011 | By | Category: abundance, Career advice, challenges, competing, competitive challenges, competitive environment, economy, mentor, strategy

PracticaL Mentor

The stock market took a nosedive Friday (01/28/2011) and all reports pointed to the unrest in Egypt as the root cause. This made me stop to think that if the stock market can be affected by seemly-unrelated political events could there be a link between Egypt’s political unrest and US careers?

Looking back over my 40 odd year career, there are some very startling connections between the US job market and foreign events. Some can be attributed to pure coincidence, while others appear to have a direct connection.

Often national and international politics affect the US job market directly. The recent global economic meltdown and associated recession/depression (depending if you have a job or not) is directly linked to political decisions leading up to and after the economic crash. Although there is a lot or rhetoric on both sides of the argument very little is actually being done to get the nation back on its feet. The conventional wisdom is the markets have to work things out themselves, and they will. However the effect on your career may be directly linked on how and when the economy recovers.

Although I have been through several economic swings the one that strikes me as the most similar to our current situation is the 1970’s. The Viet Nam war was dividing the country, Iran was in political upheaval, and the US manufacturing base was being divided up between emerging Europe and Asia economies. The US was in a deep recession, and American Pie was shrinking. I lived in the Pittsburg -Youngstown steel belt, and witnessed the extinguishing of one mighty blast furnace after another as the effects rippled through the economy with staggering unemployment. Families lost their homes as foreclosures and savings and loan failures skyrocketed. In addition to the faltering economy, a wave of political unrest and change swept across the country, and the American workplace underwent monumental changes.

Once again the stage is set with conditions similar to those of the 70s. The current unrest in Egypt and the Middle East is economically based. Like many countries including the US there are scores of young professionals who have invested time and money in their education and want the promised rewards in good paying careers. However the state of the world economy cannot fulfill the promise that education is the answer to the current economic shortage of good paying jobs. So what does this have to do with your career?

In the 70s there was large influx of foreign professionals into a US workforce that was already struggling to provide jobs for American workers. Often aided by government programs and special consideration, the numbers of new entrants into the US job market increased the unemployment of many American workers who were indirectly placed a competitive disadvantage by their own government. Eventually the economy recovered and America was put back to work. Innovation and new technology once again spurred the US into resuming its role as an economic leader and prosperity returned for a while.

For many the 70s had a happy out come, and the middle class expanded with the US economy. New career paths were created as advances in technology created a demand for new skills and talents. However, there were several economic casualties who never regained their previous economic position, or whose careers were stalled as they were sidelined in favor of a political agenda. This is the new risk faced by the American worker. Will we repeat the 70s with an influx of favored status workers into a struggling economy? Will more American slide from the middle class as foreign nationals to complete another misguided political agenda fill their job opportunities?

The PracticaL Mentor

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