By David Joel Miller.
The story of the Cordwainers, Redsmiths and the disappearing jobs.
Did you get a job once and plan to work at that job, maybe even that company, for the rest of your life? Then one day the company went out of business. When that happens to you what do you do?
There was a time when most people learned their trade from their parents or underwent an apprenticeship and then worked at that trade the rest of their life. Not anymore.
The career landscape has been completely reshaped in recent years. Some people lose their job and no matter how much they look they can’t find another job in their field. Our countries unemployment has continued to stay stuck at an unacceptable high level. Some places have higher unemployment than others, but even when you are willing to relocate – what if you can’t find a job that matches your skills? What if you are approaching retirement age?
It may be because of the Cordwainers and Redsmiths!
As a Professional counselor, I see clients who are in that situation. I warn them about the Cordwainers and Redsmiths.
Check any help wanted ad. Look through the listings at your state’s employment development office, Can you find a help wanted ad for a Cordwainer? I have looked more than once. I can’t find one. Did you know there was a time when Cordwainer was a common occupation in America?
Cordwainers were leather workers. Mostly they made shoes from leather supplied by the factory owner. They formed one of the first unions in America. The Cordwainers strike in 1805 set a precedent for labor law for most of the early part of American history. It was big news. Today they are almost all gone. Most shoes are massed produced in factories overseas. Over time the old Cordwainers had to take other jobs. Not good paying jobs, not jobs in their trade, but they took whatever work they could find. Not just a job or a company went out of business but a whole occupation essentially ceased to exist.
Does this story sound frightening? Does it sound familiar? What did you say you did for a living? Could that occupation cease to exist also?
What about the Redsmiths?
Have you seen any job openings for them? They have mostly come and gone like the Cordwainers. You have heard of blacksmiths, right? And goldsmiths? Redsmiths worked on red metal, copper, and brass. Some of them made their living traveling around in their wagon to the farmhouses where they repaired broken copper pots and kettles. Fixing copper vessels used to pay. Today we throw those old pots and pans out and buy new ones. The Redsmiths got thrown out also. Like most of the repair and fix-it shops.
Think about someone who lost their job as a Cordwainers and retrained to become a Redsmiths. That had to be a traumatic experience.
Could that happen to you? Sure it could.
The typical skilled worker will need to retrain for a different job 3 to 5 times in their lifetime. That has been getting harder not easier to do.
See also: Degree but can’t find a job?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books