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The best job is...

25 September 2020

When I was a kid, most of my peers wanted to be firemen, policemen builders or plumbers.

Yeah, aspirations weren't high back in the 1950s and 1960s. A good trade or a job in the public service were about as much most people wanted for their kids. "Learn a trade and have a job for life" was the rule of thumb. Likewise, if you got a job in The Post Office or other arms of the public service, you'd be set for life.

Oh my, how things have changed! Ask anyone who's been recently laid off from a comfortable job at the IRD, that most protected of all civil service institutions, and you'll realise that no job is safe in the 21st century.

While having a trade qualification under your belt might make it easier to get and keep a job, it's still no guarantee, as we head into uncertain times.

So what job would you recommend to kids currently engaged in gaining an education? Exactly where should they be setting their sights if they want maximum chances for employment, a good income and security?

To be honest, I have no idea how to answer that question.

Perhaps politics would be a safe bet... after all, those who run the nation will always make sure that there are plenty of jobs going for themselves and their mates.

Being a lawyer seems to be a popular choice these days, however I understand that NZ is already one of the most lawyered-up countries in the world on a per head of population basis -- so maybe we're already reaching saturation point there.

Given our infatuation with property as an investment, being a real-estate salesperson may be a savvy option. This does seem a little cyclic though and I seem to recall that in times of recession, lots of agents end up having to flip burgers to keep themselves afloat.

If you don't mind dealing with the excretions and ailments of others, being a doctor is always a good bet. People will always need medical help and the government, despite the complaints, invariably seems to front up with the money needed to subsidise the poor's access to such services. I've yet to see a doctor driving a 1990s Toyota out of economic necessity.

Maybe farming is the answer. Well unfortunately, unless you've got a snot load of family money or win lotto, the chances of you buying a viable farm block these days is about zero. Land values are now so high that you really do need to be born into farming to have any chance of having a go -- unless you'd be happy just working as a farm labourer or manager.

Tourism? Ah, yeah... let's not go there right now.

Perhaps a chef or restauranteur? Don't get your hopes up. Restaurants seem to be a great way to end up with a small fortune... so long as you start with a big one.

The economics of running a restaurant seem to be very marginal and the risk is very high, especially during these challenging times. As a chef, you may find yourself regularly looking for a new job as successive employers succumb to the harsh realities of the business.

What about computers and IT?

Well it seems that there's still a good demand for IT professionals. Whether you're an analyst, coder or support person the chances are that you'll always be able to find some sort of work. Sadly however, at least from where I sit, much of that work will be mind-numbingly boring. It strikes me that the exciting "wild west" days of carving new niches in a nascent and rapidly growing industry are now long-gone.

Unlike those early days, we're not seeing an endless stream of innovation, breakthrough and advancement in either hardware or software. The industry has now matured to the point where, at least to me, it has become rather dull.

Sure, we an all get a little excited when a new generation of GPUs or CPUs is announced but 2020 is nothing like 1982, when every day bought something new and exciting to market and nobody really knew what the future would hold.

Ah well, I guess the only real answer to today's question is... the best job is the one you can actually get, which may not be even close to the one you'd like to have.

What do readers think?

What would you advise young people to take as a career path these days?

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