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Understanding the Millennial – Crisis at the Gate

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It seems that teen unemployment is at an all time high. While they might have all manner of other activities going on, the lack of employment is a critical factor in the millennial ability to join the workforce and be productive.

As recently as 1990, nearly 70% of newspaper carriers in the U.S. were teens. But that number dropped to 18% in 2004, and more declines are likely, according to Robert Rubrecht, director of circulation and marketing at the Newspaper Association of America.” It’s an evolutionary process,” he says. ((Knowledge@ Wharton. March 7, 2007. “Why Teens Aren’t Finding Jobs, and Why Employers Are Paying the Price” Retrieved from Knowledge@Wharton on March 18, 2007.))

Experts agree with Hewitt. “Employment is what we call ‘path dependent,’” says Sum of Northeastern. “The more you work now, the more you will work later.” ((Ibid))

It would seem that while different and valuable brain connections are being made from the large amount of other activities, the lack of real employment doesn’t provide as easy entry into the workforce later. Often, our college internships were based partly on our curricular and extra-curricular achievements and partly on prior work experiences. Today’s teens and college students don’t have 50% of that equation and have a more difficult time being successful in entry level roles.

“We often ask, ‘What’s wrong with this generation? They don’t have any work ethic?’ but a deeper analysis shows they haven’t had the same employment opportunities their parents and older siblings once had,” says Neil Sullivan, executive director of the Boston Private Industry Council, a business-led intermediary organization that seeks to strengthen Boston’s workforce. As a result, employers are finding that entry-level employees are lacking in what Sullivan calls “the habits of paid work.” ((Ibid))

While the ability to fall easily into new technologies that help us network and collaborate, the real interactions that happen at the office and in meetings must be grown. This generation may be so extremely virtual, that the workplace simply isn’t shifting fast enough for them and they are having a hard time operating without the tools that they are used to on-line.

A secondary problem lies in the way that the millennials have been brought up. Our soccer moms have encouraged young people to fill their time with activities and are constantly measured against the measures of the rest of the country.

Teens are more focused on productivity than on learning, for example; they also measure their self worth by comparing themselves to the achievement indices set by elite college entrance requirements. They are wracked with anxiety and they are sleep-deprived; they suffer from eating disorders, panic attacks, and depression; they cheat routinely and they take achievement-enhancing drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall illegally; they attempt suicide in growing numbers. ((Knowledge@ Wharton. January 10, 2007. “’The Overachievers’: A Look at High School Competition Misses the Bigger Problem – Underachievers.” Retrieved from Knowledge@Wharton on March 18, 2007.))

It’s possible that the evolvement of society and technology is producing great young people, but we are also keeping them from being even greater by imposing the constant pressure to be measured and to perform without a focus on the core growth and learning that is really important.

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2 responses to “Understanding the Millennial – Crisis at the Gate”

  1. and related… worker background checks… 11. The dangers of growing teen unemployment and the prospects for subsequent challenges in the early work roles… 12. Why recruiters are sometimes ‘left out”… gaining the respect of leadership… 13. The merit of managing “talent pools” versus “applicant processes”…

  2. […] Underachievers.” Retrieved from Knowledge@Wharton on March 18, 2007. [back] ???? Understanding the Millennial – The Incredible Opportunity systematicHR 2007-05-16 18:00 […]