In any economic climate, the labour market can be a challenging arena to break into. It can also be defeating if one listens to the negativity of other job seekers. Often individuals will claim that there are no jobs, or, that it is impossible to secure employment unless a relation works in the industry. While it is true that it is helpful to have someone to speak on your behalf, one has to rely on themselves to be the best employable worker. That said, the way one views employment can be a bigger issue than the amount of jobs available.
Before the Industrial Revolution, employment did not exist in the capacity that we think of it today. While there were those in the employ of the state or royal family, there were few merchant class individuals that employed others. Before the Industrial Revolution, the Cottage Industry existed. The Cottage Industry was a family affair, in which the entire family came together to create items for sale or trade. Children “apprenticed” under their parents, learned skills and help to support themselves. The crafts person , the artist and the chronicler had skills and products that were marketable in most forums. In the Cottage Industry families lived on farms or feudal lands, and thus in a perfect world could grow their food, and produce goods to trade for non-essential items.
Those days, of course, are over for the overwhelming majority of us. Now we trade our labour and time for money which we exchange for goods and services. For the greater part of the past 200 years, this ideal has spread and taken over. This does not mean that it has to be the only way to adapt to the employment world.
In the spirit of the Cottage Industry days of yore, those who have hobbies and specialized skills can create their own home based (or bigger) businesses to help themselves through the rough times. By having multiple revenue streams (employment & home business), the rocky road of employment, for many, can be smoothed over. This is especially true for those individuals who have found themselves in the cycle of seasonal employment.
In Sault Ste. Marie, many individuals pass on the idea of opening their own business after witnessing the ongoing closures of local businesses, and the overwhelming migration of U.S. based superstores and power centres. While this can be a concern, it does not have to be the largest one. In many industries (take pizza for example) the local market is saturated with competition. The same cannot be said for handmade goods, (and many other industries!).
Some individuals may think that they do not have the “right” skills to be an entrepreneur. It is true that many skills are needed to be a successful entrepreneur, but that by no means requires the individuals to do it alone. There are many community resources, available to help individuals and small businesses succeed. They can help to support and build on the individual’s current skills, provide access to grants and loans, help with business plans, etc.
The internet has brought new life to the Cottage Industry. Now merchants and artisans can market their products to the whole world, expanding their customer base. This in turn could help to revitalize the local economy, as money flows in to these Cottage Industry entrepreneurs, and is inevitably spent in the area.