Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Generation Why?

Ok. I am back on the issue of moral ethics, this time the spotlight is on what 'they' are calling Generation Y – or rather Gen Y.
The Fortune 500 magazine recently published an article that really hit home for me. Its worth a read.

Owning a small business I have noticed its becoming increasing difficult to find young people with any kind moral ethic, commitment, basic manners or loyalty. BUT what is more frightening for me is total lack of passion and direction that most exude even in a job interview [this last point seems to contradict the Fortune article on the ambitious Gen-Y’ers]. They certainly don’t seem to be trying to impress, its almost as if they are expecting you to impress them! [I am basing this off over 100 interviews with early 20-somethings over the last 9 months]. I am now convinced that this behaviour is a result of a few things but mostly I think it’s a result of: indulgence, guilt & lack of quality mentorship/time.

More cash flush parents [more so than the industrial age lets say] indulging their children over the past decade [or more] because they feel guilty about the time they are able to spend with them in this fast paced world. Many families now also have different structures, they are made up of all sorts of different layers, all coming with their own issues and morals. This new age family often has split parenting complications that fuel the guilt that parents feel when dealing with their children. Sadly, this is only part of the problem, schools are not able to discipline as they did in the 'old days' incase the children’s rights are ‘infringed’. Advertisers greedily see children as a hugely important target for their products, further feeding the indulgence [or 'me'] epidemic.

Don’t believe me…. do a test, ask any teenager or 20-something where they want to be in 5 years and see what the answer is. Very few have even thought about today never mind tomorrow! Sure the business landscape is changing very quickly, and it is difficult to keep up, but what happened to 'following a passion'?? Technology has been an channel that has aided these ‘All about ME’ kids enabling a secret community that excludes parents & mentors…. fueling the growth of the communication canyon [or disconnect] between generations.

Understanding & providing opportunities to this generation is important, of course, but it should not be a one sided affair. I realize that I am generalizing here [always dangerous] but I am trying to illustrate a very strong trend that needs some discussion.

I am personally not sure how to deal with people that are not passionate about anything [is this because they have mostly never felt what it is like to really want anything ?] AND I believe that you have to be taught to care and give to others. So where do you begin, how do you reason with this lot? Just to complicate this further, being a parent of a small child, I am conscious not to fall into the same give, give, give parenting trap BUT that is not as easy as it sounds with such massive external pressures [peer pressure being a main one]. Teaching manners, empathy and caring is key BUT will that be enough…? Maybe for my child [she is still young and impressionable] but what happens to the Generations Y’ers floating out there in their-own-space???

UPDATE: Since writing this I stumbled across this article BizComArticle


Anonymous said...

Being the mother of three 20 something children I have to agree with you on many of your points. I do however think that personality type also enters into the mix. All three my children are so different one would not believe they were brought up by the same parent yet I think that they were all in the 'fog' at some stage, and one of them still is. Oh where did I go wrong???

Candice said...

Agree with the personality comment as that tends to be inherent (and very much genetic)! Don't beat yourself up, my personal view is that parenting IS the most difficult job in the world! All we can do is our best.

Patricia Hudak said...

I am a Gen Y and a recent college graduate. I wanted to respond to your comment about the lack of passion and respect you see in Gen Y's, especially from your experience with us in job interviews.

We were raised with the idea that we can accomplish anything and the world is just a mouse click away. We've been creating websites, powerpoints, and excel spreadsheets since we were in grade school.

My generation's idols are very few and mostly celebrities and website founders who sold their companies for millions of dollars. So, we believe that we can easily be the same as them and should be treated so.

We know that our potential co-workers are going to be behind us when it comes to using technology and we use it to our advantage. Why not? Isn't this the age of internet economy? We are the best thing for your bottom line as we are told by everyone, since grade school.

These are the thoughts that you will hear mostly from the media and I do believe are true, however, there is another side to the story. Gen Y is in deep debt, especially from college. Most of us come out of college not only with a diploma but an average debt of $20,000.

We look around for jobs that fit our ambitious drive, but they all call for more experience. Then, we lower our standards and look for jobs that fit our experience level, but make it a struggle for us to pay our bills. All the while, we are nervous that our jobs, which are usually technology focused, can be outsourced to another country. Which makes us disengaged in those entry level positions that we apply for because it reminds us that we may have wasted the last four years of our lives and a lot of money on a college education.

So, yeah...maybe we do lack passion and respect at times, but I know there are 20-somethings out there who are eager to work. Just keep searching, like we are told.

Candice said...

Hey Patricia! Thanks so much for your comment. Really interesting to hear from a Gen y'er! One of my sisters is a Gen y'er and much of what you say here is reflected in her difficulties. The debt issue is one that adds a different perspective to things, and I have also seen the struggle with experience/skill. There are also certain industries that are saturated and seem to have a flood of people competing for jobs...in SA anyway..... I think the world has changed but we all need to try and find common ground somehow. I will keep searching!