Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rebooting RebootYou

I’m getting myself back out on the road to run again, after a too-long layoff. As I was running today, I was thinking about the RebootYou website. Talk about something that needs rejuvenation! That’s another task I haven’t been taking care of. So enough of my beating myself up and on to the subject at hand: rebooting.

The original concept of RebootYou was to help people recently retired get back to being productive instead of sitting on the couch. My assumption was that there were ample opportunities in the market for gainful employment after retirement – perhaps at a slower pace or a different type of job, but staying active and engaged in something rewarding.

However, today, four years after I launched RebootYou, that assumption no longer holds true. In fact, the exact opposite situation prevails -- there are not even enough opportunities for gainful employment for many in their prime earning years -- well before they are at "retirement age." Many have been forced into involuntary joblessness not because they have aged out of the workforce, but because the overall workplace opportunity has been downsized by the economic downturn.

Making matters worse for those newly out of a job are fundamental global changes described by Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum in their new book, That Used to Be Us. They point out that the combination of globalization and the information technology revolution have made many jobs obsolete or nonexistent. Even white collar jobs for high skilled workers can be outsourced to lower cost geographies. The net for would be rebooters is a vastly different climate than existed just 4 short years ago: 
  • The demographic bulge of Baby Boomers turning 65 still looms. The oldest of the Boomers have already hit 65 and started retiring from conventional jobs.
  • I have no data to back this up, but I’m guessing the majority of these Boomers are not on the cutting edge of personal technology and social media techniques.
  • The number of job openings has shrunk considerably, not only for those "second career" jobs but for basic employment as well.
  • To have any hope of qualifying for a job in this new world, many boomers will have to learn new skills and will have to learn to compete on a whole new playing field.
But for those who can adapt to the new realities, there are at least two broad paths to re-employment and continued contribution: education and entrepreneurship. I plan to talk about these avenues in coming blogs. Please come back and share your thoughts, too.