After being quoted in yesterday’s Post-Dispatch article about a $3.2 million federal grant to help train workers laid off from the Fenton Chrysler plant to work on hybrid and electric vehicles, someone asked me what I would do to help those workers.
I would give them the same advice I would give any person that doesn’t currently have a job:
- Research the job market. Find out which jobs and careers seem to have stability and the prospects of remaining in demand in the future.
- Identify a career that seems to suit your skills and personality.
- If you have not yet developed some of the skills needed for your chosen career, invest in that sort of development. If you don’t have the money to do so already on hand, persuade someone (such as a relative or a bank) to loan you the money. Be sure that the job you are hoping to get will allow you to repay those loans.
- Once you have all the necessary skills, go to where the jobs are — even if that would require you to move.
- If, having developed these skills, you are still unable to find a job working for someone else, consider starting your own business in which you can do this job.
- If you can’t find a job working for someone else and you cannot successfully operate your own business, you must accept that you chose unwisely and go back to step one.
- If all of your best efforts fail and you find yourself to be simply unemployable, then you should rely on your friends, relatives, religious community, or charity — people who assist you because they want to, not because the government is forcing them to.
I completely sympathize with anyone trying to find a job or a career, because I’ve been there. I know how hard it can be. But, at heart, the search for employment must be an issue of personal responsibility. No one is entitled to have any particular job or career. We all have to figure out how to keep providing goods and/or services that generate enough value to entice others to pay for them.
If/when the job or career we pursue ceases to generate sufficient value either for our employer or our customers and clients, we have to look elsewhere — and, unless a worker has made certain contractual arrangements with their employer beforehand, no one owes them any extraordinary help in finding a new job or career. But people struggling like this should also keep in mind that opportunity can arise from unusual circumstances, as is demonstrated by this column by Steve Giegerich, who also happened to write yesterday’s article.