Jobs vs. Careers: Lowering Standards

The president, Democrats, Republicans, and everyone in between like to talk about creating jobs. There are too many unemployed. Millions are affected by the crisis of a few years ago. And, politicians do whatever they can to make the magic happen, as it were. Granted, government can’t exactly create jobs, though the folks in D.C. like to claim they can, but certainly, laws can be passed to make it easier on businesses to create them.

However, there is another problem, this one a little more cultural, that perhaps could be addressed. All too often, we hear people talk about creating jobs or trying to get better ones. We argue about the economics of job creation and increasing the minimum wage. But, in the workplace, there is another term that is slowly, it seems, fading out of existence: career.

Eight years ago, I went to college, where I was told I was working toward a career. There was a career services center there. Even before college, students are able to attend career days, and learn about what’s out there in the job market. Everything in the past seemed to be focused on that word.

Now, though, we focus on jobs. There’s a bit of a difference between jobs and careers, when we think about it. A job is what we do. A career in the field in which we do that job. The problem, however, is taking away emphasis from the career. Psychologically, it seems to dissuade us from thinking about the field. We’re just focusing on the job. The present. Not thinking at all about the long term future.

The minimum wage fight, in a sense, is another psychological attack on the idea of a career. Minimum wage jobs are not meant to be a forever job. We’re encouraging people who could otherwise go out and pick up another skill and find a career field to work in to stay where they are, in a more or less dead-end spot. It kills ambition and drive. As a result, that can affect innovation in the U.S.

At a time when we have to step up our game to compete in a global marketplace, we are struggling to get more people out there to work. And it’s not a matter of education – a sizable number of college graduates (worthless degrees or no) are struggling to find a career, and they do have to work in one of these jobs to make ends meet. But to raises the minimum wage rather than encourage them to find something else as quickly as possible is madness. The market is slowly beginning to recover, and things will open up, but if you make them too comfortable where they are, the affect is similar to the effect of extending unemployment benefits.

Eventually, people lose the incentive to go out and keep looking.