Does job security exist anymore?

a group of people in a meeting
 “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” was a pre-requisite of any job interview as organisations attempted to judge a candidate’s suitability, loyalty to the company and level of ambition. New technologies, changing regulations, economic trends and generational preferences have eroded that to some extent and lead to the gig economy and less permanent jobs. 
Now, as the cost-of-living bites – job security is a priority for many. However small business failures are soaring, and staff are more ready than ever to change jobs – is job security even a thing anymore? And when we talk about job security, we mean can you count on continued employment in an ongoing sense, unless there is a genuine need to lose your role and you are compensated adequately.

The erosion of job security

The traditional notion of a stable, lifelong job with a single employer has evolved into a more dynamic but uncertain employment environment. New Zealand's post-war economic boom brought about a period of relative stability in employment. Many New Zealanders could expect to secure a job with reasonable long-term prospects, often supported by strong union representation and government policies promoting job security. The silent and baby boomer generations stayed with the same employer for decades at a time.
However, the latter half of the 20th century witnessed a gradual erosion of this traditional model. The 1980s and 1990s, marked by economic deregulation and globalisation, introduced new challenges. Industries faced increased competition, leading to restructuring, outsourcing, and the rise of casual and contract work. This shift contributed to heightened job insecurity as workers faced uncertain hours, limited benefits and less job stability.

Job security in the 21st century

Fast forward to the 21st century, and job security has become a complicated issue. The rise of the gig economy, enabled by technology and characterised by short-term contracts and freelance work, has expanded rapidly, offering flexibility but often at the expense of traditional job security. 

Technological advancements, including automation and artificial intelligence, have further impacted job security. Routine tasks are increasingly automated, leading to the need for workers to upskill or reskill to remain competitive in the workforce.

Factors influencing job security

Economic trends:

Economic fluctuations, such as recessions or industry disruptions, can directly impact job availability and security. Certain sectors may experience growth while others contract, influencing employment prospects.

Technology and automation:

The increasing integration of technology in workplaces can lead to job transformations or redundancies. Workers with skills aligned with emerging technologies often have better job prospects and security.


New Zealand's interconnectedness with the global economy means that international trends and market shifts can influence domestic job security. Global competition can drive companies to adjust their workforce strategies and send large amounts of work offshore.

Industry specifics:

Job security varies across industries. Some sectors, like information technology and healthcare, have high demand for skilled workers, leading to more stable employment conditions. Others, such as retail or manufacturing, may face greater volatility.

Strategies to combat job insecurity

Given this evolving nature of job security, individuals must adapt and employ strategies to navigate these challenges effectively. While many of the external factors leading to job insecurity are beyond control, your response to the conditions isn’t.

Continuous learning:

Lifelong learning is crucial to remaining competitive in the job market. Upskilling in areas relevant to emerging technologies or industry demands enhances employability and job security.


Building a diverse skill set or exploring multiple income streams, such as freelancing or entrepreneurship, can provide a buffer against job insecurity.

Networking and professional development:

Building professional networks and staying updated with industry trends enhances career opportunities and access to job openings.

The future and building resilience

While the traditional notion of lifelong job security may have changed, opportunities exist for individuals and organisations to navigate the modern workplace successfully. Embracing lifelong learning, fostering adaptability and prioritising employee well-being are key strategies in building resilience and enhancing job security. 

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