Monday, 14 October 2019

The growth in vague roles

A webinar I attended this year on career writing with Reinekke Lengelle. Reinekke talked about artificial intelligence where: 

"thirty five to fifty percent of jobs in Canada will be threatened as a result [...]. In the 1970s, in the Central Bureau of Statistics in the Netherlands, they found that there were about 5,000 definable professions. Professions we can relate to; things like dentist, English teacher, these type of things. We know what they are, when we say them. And at that time in the 1970s there are about 2,000 vague roles: things like policy developer for the municipality. Somebody would say, "Oh, I don't know what you do. Can you explain?" So there were about 2,000 of those vague roles. 
"This research was done again in 2012. Again, the Central Bureau of Statistics in the Netherlands. [...] What they found was that there were only about 1,000 of those definable professions left. Things like dentist, English teacher, nurse, those type of things; and - if you can believe it - 23,000 of those vague roles.
"[...] I have a lovely colleague [who] she first introduced herself to me [...] I said, "So, what do you do?" [...] and she said "I'm a digital architect". [...] I really didn't know what she did at all. I had to ask her and she named about eight things that she does.
"We're faced with imagining 23,000 or more of these vague roles, and we're stuck in matching paradigms: how are you going to look at your skill set and combine them with with the jobs out there, when there is such a variety?"
In summary, there were 5,000 'definable' professions and 2,000 'vague' roles in the 1970s. By 2012 there were 1,000 definable professions, and 23,000 vague roles. Definable professions have apparently reduced by 60% during the intervening 40 years, while vague roles have increased by 2300% (Central Bureau of Statistics in the Netherlands, 1970, 2012; as cited by Lengelle, 2019, 18.45).

While I have tried to get a copy of the Dutch reports, I have been unable to obtain them, neither from the academic who gave the presentation (Lengelle, 2019), nor directly from the Netherlands Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. This data would be of particular interest to any career practitioner, and if any of you are aware of where it can be located, I would be most grateful!

The Dutch study helps us to understand why matching our skills against job descriptions becomes a difficult process (Lengelle, 2019), and why the help of a professional navigator - a career practitioner - can be of immense value to someone who is seeking a change in direction

It never hurts to get professional advice!



Sam

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