Will HR IGo-I IFree-lance-I By 2008

May 1, 1998
Futurist David Pearce Snyder, the life styles editor for The Futurist magazine, has been in the forecasting business for more than 30 years and is known to viewers of "Nightline," the "Today Show," CNN and MSNBC. He and his partner, Dr. Gregg Edwards, are the authors of "Future Forces" (1984) and "America in the 1990s" (1992), both published by the Washington, D.C.-based American Society of Association Executives. He believes there’s a major change coming to the world of human resources that wasn’t surfaced by the "HR 2008" study.

"The reality is that the job is going away," says Snyder. "The list of fixed skills and responsibilities we call a job will be a thing of the past in the age of the unbundled enterprise. Jobs are going away because the large bureaucracies that require them are going away."

Snyder believes downsizing and outsourcing are more than just management fashions. "Over the next five to 10 years," he says, "large organizations will see a reduction in the ranks of permanent, career employees of about two-thirds. In the 21st-century enterprise, 35 percent of the workforce will be a core career cadre of permanent employees, 25 percent will be outsourced suppliers of components and support services, 25 percent will be contingent workers and 15 percent will be contract specialists."

Snyder believes the outsourcing, downsizing and focusing on core competencies he predicts for American business will have profound implications for human resources professionals. "We’re going to see the growth of a free-standing human resources industry," he says.

Because the job as we know it will no longer exist, the new HR industry may not serve organizations as much as it serves workers. "In a world without jobs, career management is complicated, to say the least," says Snyder. "Everybody will need professional help in navigating the workplace." Snyder insists that in the near future, it won’t just be actors and star athletes who have agents. He likes to quote consultant Charles Handy, "From now on, we’re all going to need an agent." Those agents, says Snyder, will be members of the human resources industry.

In the future, Snyder insists, nobody will have a job, but everybody will have a career. It’s the human resources industry, the massively outsourced HR function, that will help us all manage our careers.

Workforce, January 1998, Vol. 77, No. 1, p. 56.