“Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.”
The speed of technological development is increasing every day. Our needs change and our knowledge base erodes while we try to keep apace technological developments. There was a time when a college degree was enough to be endowed with the knowledge that could carry an individual through a life time career.
Today, those who cannot regularly renew their knowledge cease to be in the game and consequently, to be employable. More importantly perhaps, evolving technologies either reduce the need for some professions or toll the death bells for them. Typewriter repairmen are a case in point.
At the same time the need for well-trained human resources and for new professions grows considerably. If we need to improve our competitiveness and welfare, we cannot artificially keep alive the industries that are that are no longer competitive or lack demand, to protect their workers. Both the US and the UK that underwent this transformation in the 1980s ended up with improvements in their competitiveness and their welfare. Although the Reagan and Thatcher eras caused a temporary increase in the unemployment levels, in the final analysis they led to the expansion of the employment base. Today countries like the U.S., Canada, and Germany are changing their immigration policies in order to cover their deficit in skilled labor.
Comprehensive career transition programs were also put into effect in such countries to encourage the reorientation of those who lost their jobs. The fear of a rise in the unemployment level happens to be the most important obstacle to Turkish public sector reform. Well, fear does not eliminate the problem. Letting inefficiencies reign because of our fear will keep us, as a society, from using our scarce resources effectively and will reduce our welfare. What we need to do is to come up with the plans for transition and for reeducation to prepare those workers who are employed in industries that are no longer competitive or relevant.
Moreover, our country cannot afford to send to retirement experinced people in their forties on whom our scarce educational resources were utilized. To let this mass of experienced people who can contribute vastly to our development sit idle, without creating added value, is a waste of human resources.
Today non-governmental organizations are growing, family businesses are trying to institutionalize themselves and the service sector is making strides. We need this workforce in their forties to make up for the deficit in skilled workers and managers in these fast growing fields. So we need to encourage them and inform them about moving on to new jobs. We also have to set up training programs to endow them with the requisite behavior and skills for working in a new industry.
Those who make the transition to a second career will be able to improve their income level as well as enjoying the satisfaction of being engaged in a new line of work. Furthermore, the consciousness of being useful to society will boost their self-esteem and joy of life. A wealthier and more competitive country requires well planned transitions to second careers.