See if you haven’t heard these statements before:
“No one will hire me because I don’t have experience. How can I get experience if no one will hire me?”
“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.”
Combine the two of these together and we’re all headed for a future led by people lacking practical experience and we’ve got ourselves to blame for not giving it to them.
The very people who are in the very highest positions of power, making key decisions and issuing policy directives on the direction of our national, provincial and municipal governments probably haven’t had much experience themselves when it comes to struggling to find employment. Why this week alone there was a comment on the news from a Federal politician who advised Millennials to get used to a lifetime of precarious employment; short-term jobs and plenty of them.
It seems to me that youth have only one of two responses to offer in reply; accept this forecast or reject it. Some have already made their choice and when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to address a crowd of them at their school, they stood up and turned their back on him while others openly shouted him down and refused to hear his words.
Unlike in other countries where a such scorn for a message might be met with rock throwing, death threats, riots and injuries, those in attendance that day just heckled him and sent him packing with their message clearly resonating with him instead of his politically motivated public relations message echoing with them.
So youth of this generation are going to have if you believe the message, a far different employment / career path than those of their parents generation. They will have more jobs, many of short-term duration. They will have to be far more adaptable to the changing employment landscape. They cannot rely on working in one company for 20 or 30 years and they will change fields entirely over their lifetime – possibly working in several fields requiring retraining.
When that politician – the Federal Finance Minister to be precise – said youth had better get used to working and living in the world he envisions, I wonder if it possibly occurred to him that many of us currently in the existing workforce have been living and working this way for years? The difference between him and us of course is that I doubt many Canadian workers have had the same life of privilege that he’s enjoyed.
I also suspect that unlike the esteemed and honourable William Morneau, many youth of today don’t want the 20 or 30 years with one company job outlook he seems to think they do. I imagine as well that a large number of youth if polled actually relish the idea of frequent change and re-inventing themselves.
Our parents often in the past got a job in their 20′ s and stayed with a company for life, getting promotions over the years and feeling pretty settled in until the big retirement party. The current generation of workers is one of transition; where there are still some working in those companies, but others are finding their industries are less stable, resulting in workers having to change jobs, organizations and going to school for retraining.
However the Millennials? They are a different breed, emerging into the world of work in a different time and they are bringing a new attitude that Mr. Morneau isn’t giving them credit for. You see, he said, “they’d better get used to it”. In fact, Mr. Morneau, their attitude is that they don’t all expect or even want to work for single organizations in the same roles for 20 or 30 years. This generation is made up of risk-takers, optimists, innovators and game changers. They don’t mind change; they seek it out and bring change into their own lives by design not waiting for it to ‘happen to them’.
Millennials I suspect do want to gain some experience but not necessarily in the same way generations before sought experience. This generation works from home, wants flexible hours, changes in dress codes, welcomes body art in the workplace; why even animals and music that fuels their creativity. There’s a blurring between the office and personal life when Cooks are on the payroll to make lunches, games rooms and fitness rooms are on the 3rd floor, and collaboration is everywhere with the integration of technology.
What young people do want is in other ways what we wanted ourselves when we were young adults; a fair living wage that makes renting an apartment or home ownership possible. If it doesn’t seem viable, they’ll get creative there too. What they want is meaningful experiences, to travel, to express themselves in ways that connect them to others and to have fun.
Optimism Mr. Morneau; not a forecast that they interpret as, “You’re working life will mean lots of low-paying, short-term jobs with little security and you’d better get used to it.” I’m surprised honestly that more people haven’t questioned why we have an official representing us in the party of political power who feels so down on our Canadian youth and their futures. Presumably this man and his party are THE ones if any, who are in a position to actually scrap their financial plans if they are so bleak and replace them with ones that reward youth employment, apprenticeships, entrepreneurship’s and manageable risk.