The fractional future of work
The internet has caused a fundamental change in attitude towards work and the realisation that a 'career' has ceased to be a feasible way to organise working life. People now view work as an instrument of self-development and personal autonomy and entrepreneurship not as a status symbol, but as an attitude - an attitude that everyone is going to need. By 2007, over half the working population of the USA will be freelancers, setting up a so called perfect labour storm. The trends are similar in Europe. The Centre for Future Studies recently published a paper – British Expat Workers, a New Geography that estimates the size of the British Diaspora at 2m and growing with around 100,000-150,000 British workers emigrating each year.
This will force companies to start looking at new ways of acquiring and working with Britain’s young talent as baby boomers retire en masse over the next 10 years. But we are not preparing our children for this kind of work. We do not teach them;
* How to collaborate
* How to communicate
* How to network
* How to thrive on portfolio work
One of the most consummate networkers of our time recently said;
“If you want to set something in motion on this planet, you need access to people you haven’t met. You need knowledge and information that is not yet at your disposal. You need ideas. You can always get them somewhere. From people.” Martijn Aslander, Loyal Rebels
The internet and more specifically social software are enabling connectivity at the individual level never before seen in history, making it possible to;
* Provide a teacher for every student, on every subject, on a one to one basis and ‘on demand’
* Enable the wider local community to contribute to student learning (“it takes a whole village”)
* Shift student mindset from ‘job’ to wealth creation and active work/life balance
The Case for Online Community
Social software is a class of internet applications that enable conversations between parties that are previously unknown to each other. In the past five years, there has been an explosion in the use of social software and it has become and industry in its own right. Social software has created thousands of discrete online communities serving virtually every aspect of society, some of which have tens of millions of members. These are communities of people who share the same cause, situation, or vocation. They facilitate professional exchange, allow members to establish a bond of common experiences and challenges online, and build networks of relationships which are leveraged at offline events and meetings.
In July this year, News Corporation purchased a US social software service provider called MySpace, with 40 million registered members for over $500m, and Google recently announced its intention to combine social software and internet telephony applications as part of a strategy to extend its search business into these dense clusters of online communities. Unsurprisingly, young children and teenagers are the predominant users of social software. Recent studies have shown that the most profound outcome of the use of social software is its ability to change people’s behaviour.
There is a case for creating online communities by leveraging the latest Web 2.0 technologies for FE Colleges, schools and universities that go beyond online forums and ‘talking shops’. By re-purposing social software used by existing global business communities, students can be provided with the freedom to organize themselves so that their practical projects can be realised with the help and support of their local communities. Members of this community will be drawn from the entire ecosystem of the school to create a diverse population of people committed to coaching, mentoring and transferring their knowledge to students to improve their social, collaborative and communications skills. This will prepare these Loyal Rebels for a wide range of models of work, provide them with the personal support networks that are now an essential aspect of achieving personal work/life balance aspirations, and more importantly, make them more ‘employer ready’.