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Nation/World

Temporary Employment Has Benefits

Mon., April 8, 1996, midnight

The size of America’s temporary work force doubled in the past five years, with its ranks swelling to more that 2.2 million. Indeed, only 65% of our labor force is conventionally employed, with the rest either unemployed or serving in temporary or part-time positions. This phenomenon is offering some unique opportunities to the entrepreneurially advantaged.

Q. Since I’ve been laid off from my job as an assistant controller in a large plant, I’ve been considering going into business for myself, with my personal time and skills as my only product. I’d make my self available as a part-time, in-house “chief financial officer” to a number of small firms.

Does this sound respectable enough to have a future?

A. It sure does. This “rent-a-bean-counter” type of service represents one of the fastest growing segments of today’s temp business. In recent years, the practice of leasing experts has spread rapidly to include computer specialists, lawyers, personnel administrators, engineers, physicians, nurses, teachers, graphic artists and a host of other occupational specialties. The Center for Business Ownership, for example, is being contacted with increasing frequency by firms seeking to fill top-level, special purpose management positions by “leasing” entrepreneurial leaders who have a high degree of self-motivation, experience, market focus and bottom-line orientation. High-skill occupations like this already make up one fifth of America’s “temporary” work force, which used to consist primarily of clerical workers and manual laborers. By involving yourself in a number of firms simultaneously you’ll have an opportunity to expand your horizons and develop a wide range of new and different abilities. You’ll be pushed to stay relevant and will no longer be totally dependent on a single employer.

You might choose to work exclusively for a number of small companies according to regular part-time schedules. Or you could make all or part of your time available to larger firms on an interim basis or for fixed-length, special projects.

Either approach - or a combination of both - will make your workaday life more stimulating and rewarding.

If you choose to make your talents available through an established temporary-help agency or employee-leasing firm you might even be eligible for some benefits. It’s possible to establish a portable pension plan to which both you and your various employers could contribute.

Some workers believe there is a stigma associated with temporary help so they use this arrangement solely as a means of spotting a chance for full time employment demonstrating their abilities before a prospective employer. This could be a wise move. But, frankly, it’s my belief that, in the near future, some of the greatest opportunities to achieve above-average personal and professional success lie in the field of temporary employment.

The temporary help industry has created more jobs during the past half-decade than any other industry in the nation. Philosopher/futurist Charles Handy predicts that, by the year 2000, half of the working population will be making a living outside of traditional organizations.

Rapid, dramatic changes in technology, organizational structures, work patterns, consumer preferences and competition have made the nature of almost every job short-term at best. With rampant re-engineering, re-structuring, and re-positioning, the nature of the human inputs required by any given job is constantly changing. The job that exists today will most probably not exist five years from now.

As a consequence, the smart worker will gladly see himself or herself as “temporary” because this view will prompt him to constantly develop new, currently relevant skills and abilities. The nature, dynamics, structure, and functions of every progressive firm will be changing even more rapidly in the future, so a worker’s ability to continue to serve will depend on his flexibility, adaptability and capacity to learn.

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The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Paul Willax The Spokesman-Review



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