While we may not hear much about it in corporate mainstream media, today, more and more people in the west are facing unemployment, underemployment and general economic despair. This includes well educated, (formerly) middle class people that have seen their jobs down sized, outsourced or completely disappear as well as those that have spent years and a small fortune (much of it borrowed and expected to be returned with interest) on fancy university degrees only to be unemployed or underemployed after graduation.
How do I know this? Well, for starters, I am among the latter. With over a decade in university, a PhD from a very fancy school and numerous “prestigious” awards and accolades, I find myself unconventionally and sometimes marginally employed two and a half years after graduation. Traditionally, PhDs—especially those with research awards and academic publications—were almost guaranteed to find a tenure track teaching position or professorship. Today the reality is much different: Many PhD graduates are having trouble finding even just sessional or adjunct teaching positions (which typically come with much less pay and no health and pension benefits). And if you didn’t somehow manage to rack up years of teaching experience while completing a doctorate—which was my reality but is not true for all doctoral students—then your chances are more slim.
So it is that despite my fancy education I was ‘forced’—admittedly, I’m primarily a writer. I enjoy teaching university but it is not my first passion—to join the world of freelance writing and editing and become part of what is often referred to as the “sharing economy” or peer-to-peer (P2P) economy. While my freelance and contract work allows me to dedicate time to my personal writing (such as this blog) and other projects and passions, it also means less money in a world that is becoming more and more expensive to live in. Still, I am more fortunate than others. The overly educated and under-employed, as I like to call my sub-group, are fairing better than the outright unemployed, a segment that is climbing at an unacceptable rate in the west. Continue reading