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globalisation, ecology and careers

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Bill Law
31 August 2009

The labour-market is a product of economic activity. That activity is, increasingly, a series of global events - set in motion by companies and conglomerates able to locate raw materials, processes and markets on different continents. All of this is made possible by improvements in transportation and acceleration in information transmission - both between work locations and between producers and consumers. From the point-of-view of a nation, much of the economic activity of its population is shaped and transacted offshore. And the agencies are powerful - some conglomerates have bigger turnovers than some nations.

World-wide it is probable that more people have a better quality of life because of these developments. But, also, the changed position of national governments has weakened regulation of them. The credit crunch is, in part, a result of such intensifying dynamics. Present and future labour-markets now need to be thought of in new ways - not all of which are yet clear. There are some clear local effects of globalisation. They include the exportation of labour markets to cheaper sources and the migration of workers in pursuit of a better livings. From the point-of-view of working people the resulting uncertainty is increasing flexibility in career management. An ability creatively to adapt to unforeseen possibilities may rank at least as importantly as an ability competitively to match oneself to available opportunities. There is room for much creative programme development here.

The local effects of globalisation are both cultural and environmental. The two sets of effects are linked. Culturally people are becoming more aware of a need to set career in a broader context - the terms ‘well-being’, ‘quality-of-life’ and ‘work-life balance’ express these concerns They include the realisation that work has environmental impact.

This includes effects associated with land clearance, with increasing demands for raw materials, and with carbon emissions associated with production and communication. Work has a carbon footprint. There is some tension between economic competitiveness and the protection of the environment: production involves some exploitation, but exploitation cannot be reduced without income. The dilemmas this poses to thoughtful career managers, seeking to resolve this aspect of work-life balance, are very sharp - and will not be neglected by thinking and creative careers workers.

Bill Law


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