Millennials And Mr. Morneau

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.

You With The Chip On Your Shoulder

Hey you. (Sorry about that; I don’t know your name.) You with the chip on your shoulder that’s so large no one could fail to notice it. I bet you’ve had a lot of bad breaks over your life that keep adding to it. Maybe it was rough right from your birth into this world and it’s been that way ever since, or perhaps your early years were pretty decent and it was only as you grew up that your life and all the people you’ve met in it have made it a tough go.

Either way it doesn’t really matter right now does it? I mean let’s face it; you’re the kind of person who just wakes up to battle one day at a time. I don’t know you of course, (which is exactly what you’d tell me if I was standing in front of you); yeah you’d tell me not to think I know you either. But just like you, I’ve come to eyeball people and size them up pretty quickly. You do it to survive and get what you need while I do it to size up what they need. We both have to be pretty good at reading people in order to get on.

Anyhow, we’re agreed on one thing I hope; life isn’t anywhere near what you once thought, and it’s not getting better. On the outside you’ll tell anybody who will listen that you don’t need their help or their charity; you’ve got this image to protect of being the lone wolf after all – but every now and then you’d be more than open to some help from the right person. Don’t worry; I’m not going to tell you I’m that guy. I’m too far away from where you are anyhow, and if you saw me, you’d just peg me on sight as some old guy who thinks he’s got all the answers.

Well I don’t have all the answers – no one does. All of us though, have some of the answers; it just depends on the questions we’re being asked as to whether or not the answers we have fit. Take you for example. When it comes to fending for yourself, maybe you’re the go-to guy. You know people on a first-name basis who can get you what you need so you can survive. You get what you take; nobody gives you anything for free unless its stuff no one needs or wants.

I suppose if somebody followed you around unseen, they might from time-to-time actually see that chip on your shoulder ease up ever so slightly. You’ve been known to drop a few bills in some homeless persons coffee cup, stare down some punk who otherwise would have verbally or physically abused him or her on the street as they begged for change. Imagine that, you with your own demons protecting someone else from the taunts and jeers of the better off. You can be intimidating, and when it suits you, you notch it up and that feeds both your power and your view of the world as a cold place.

This much I get – no seriously I understand this much. But it’s draining isn’t it? I mean all this energy to live on the edge, keep up that scowl that looks out and down on just about everybody you meet. Even if you wanted to drop the chip on the shoulder; (and its long past being a chip anyhow isn’t it? It’s more like a boulder now), it’s hard to let people in and take a chance on them because so far anyway, it almost always backfires and ends in disappointment. You’ve tried in the past and been burned; people making promises of a better life if you only do this or that, and even when you give it a shot, they let you down. Things don’t change; people don’t change. You’re pegged as more trouble than you’re worth; a bad one, one to stay clear of, not redeemable.  And every time things go sour, you just add one more layer to your tough exterior in order to protect yourself; you’re a survivor after all and can’t rely on anyone but you.

Okay enough. At what point do you own up and decide that despite the raw deal you’ve had in the past, you are responsible for what happens in your future based on what you do in the here and now? Look at people older than you going through the world with this chip on their shoulders and you’ll see they almost always look older than they really are. They may have bodies that are lean and mean on the outside, but they’re also hollow and thin on substance on the inside. They chose to continue to live with the chip on their shoulders when they stood where you stand now.  You can choose to keep on living the way you are now of course; you’re call and yours alone; always has been and always will be.

Not everybody is against you; the world and what you experience is how you view it and what you allow in. So you’ve been burned before? That makes you normal. Give Life and people in it a chance and you might find you get the odd break; breaking down that chip just a little – making it easier to carry.

Why Get Your First Job?

Okay so you’re fairly new to this idea of work. It doesn’t sound very appealing; giving up your free time doing exactly what you want just for a pay cheque. But is that all work is about? If you think that’s it, you’re not looking at all the other benefits of having a job.

Here’s a list of just some of the goodies that having a job will give you. Whether they look cool or not right now, you’ll appreciate them down the road.

Responsible Your co-workers and employer are counting on you to be present, to complete your work.

Interpersonal Interacting with other people outside of your family and friends teaches you how to interact with others.

Teamwork Those group projects in school where you had to work with others is about to pay off. You’ll learn what it’s like to be inter-dependent on others and them on you, to get work done.

Direction Just about everybody has someone telling them what to do. If the world up to now has revolved around you, you’re going to get a quick education. You’ll also learn taking direction from others is a good thing; a normal thing.

Punctual Being late doesn’t cut it in the real world. You’re expected to be ready to work when your shift starts; every day.

Dependable You learn to depend on others and have them depend on you; maybe for the first time.

Problem Solving Mom and Dad don’t come to work with you so you’ll learn to solve your own problems. Don’t be surprised if your problem-solving skills are poor at first. You’ll learn by trial and error; maybe even by observation.

Decision-making At work you’ll have to make your own decisions and be accountable for your choices; this is good.

Independence This is your job, your workplace. You’re positioning yourself to eventually stand on your own. Moving out takes money and your job just might cover the rent, food, transportation, entertainment etc. you want.

Accomplishment As you work, you’ll achieve success; accomplish things that will surprise you. You’ll feel good about these things and maybe want to achieve more; be more successful.

Financial Management Your first pay; hopefully of many to come. Now you have to manage your funds, save for things you want, sock some away and/or invest it so it can grow. Spend it quickly and you’ll learn its value.

Likes vs. Dislikes What do you like or dislike about the job you have? As you learn about yourself, research jobs that have more of the things you like; all jobs have some elements you’ll dislike.

Co-existing You’ll have to work with some people you’d rather not. Tough; you may not be their idea of a great co-worker either. Get over yourself and learn to get along; it’s a skill and the faster you learn it the better you’ll be.

Grading Just like in school, your performance is going to be evaluated; you’re going to be evaluated. You’re going to lean how others perceive your work, your effort, your attitude, and how you deal with challenges.

Customer Service The shoe is now on the other foot; you’re the one serving others. Do it well; you need it in all jobs.

Attitude It’s not enough to just show up in whatever mood you choose. Try it and see. You’ll learn that to surround yourself with people who have a good attitude, you must have one yourself.

Fashion Goodbye stilettos, flip-flops, exposed belly buttons, cleavage, boxers; hello overalls, safety shoes, uniforms, shirt and tie. There’s a dress code in your workplace for a reason. Don’t fight it – understand and adhere to it.

Multi-tasking Whether one person gives you several things to do or a few people give each give something to do, you’ll be expected to get several things done and done well by the way.

Work It’s called work for a reason; it’s…ah…work. It may not come easy and you have to put in the effort to get things done. This would be why they actually pay you for your time.

Socialization Yes you’ll meet new people, maybe find some who share your interests and interest you. Instead of texting, you’ll be having face-to-face conversations; you’ll actually enjoy some of them.

Integration Being a part of a business, part of an organization with many other people gives you a sense of community; belonging to a group. That inclusiveness is a good thing, because you’ll spend a lot of time with your co-workers.

Exposure As you work, you’re going to see people in other jobs, requiring some of the skills you’ll have and some you’ll want to acquire. By being exposed to these other people, you’ll potentially learn about new opportunities.

Recognition Everyone likes a pat on the back or a, ‘job well done’. Not only will you get this kind of recognition, work hard and you’ll make a name for yourself so when you do apply for other jobs, you’re memorable.

Buying Stuff Eventually mom and dad are going to stop giving you everything you ask for. That’s not how the real world works anyhow. Yep, you’re going to want stuff and eventually be told, “Get a job and buy it yourself.” Not only does a job give you the money to make it happen, you might get discounts on the stuff your organization produces.

Fun Work can still be a fun place you actually want to go to.

Me! Me! Me!

Heard of the Me Generation? You know, supposedly an entire generation of youth who are so self-absorbed in themselves that they want it all and they expect it right now to be given to them. And the generation that preceded them that is apparently to blame because they told the Me Generation that they could do anything, and be anything, and have everything if they only put their mind to it? What do you think of that?

I hear Teachers on the radio saying they want it all too; good jobs, low-class numbers, summers off, wages that increase without end. I hear Auto Workers saying they should have it all too, with higher wages and plants that run shifts around the clock, high pensions and benefits. Then there are politicians who have the one job where they can vote themselves raises, pensions for life, get appointments to Senate that the average Canadian doesn’t even know about. Oh and there’s our Sports stars who make grossly high amounts of money for playing games. How many games does a North American player actually play in a year? Somewhere between 15 – 20 and can make millions (literally) in the process; even if injured.

Let’s not forget all the singers who teenagers catapult to stardom who make millions too, and not one of them – yes not one of them – can hold a candle to a multitude of bands and musicians from the 60’s who are still performing today 50 years later. They all want it now, the fans, the adulation, the money of course, the big houses, the pools, the sex, the glamour, and then when they get in trouble they “politely respect some privacy as it’s a personal matter”. Yeah right.

So is it any surprise that young people who are job searching don’t really perform all that well across the board in those entry-level jobs that don’t offer them everything right away? Not many take a job and are willing to ‘pay their dues’ as it were. In fact, if the employer doesn’t make it a happy place with new challenges and rewards, stimulating their employees who need a buzz every 35 minutes, those same young workers become so disillusioned.

However, put the reality of a large pool of young people who believe they can do anything and deserve everything together with a large number of employers who are cutting back frills in the workplace, lowering their staffing levels, curtailing wages, rolling back benefits and closing plants together, and you’ve got a recipe for big problems. Think down the road not too far, and we’re going to have a large number of bitter young people, many with debt from schooling, who are underemployed or unemployed, who are going to collectively feel somehow that they are under-performing and under-achieving. While the adults in their lives will be supportive, it will only be to a point. Eventually, that nurturing bubble that is built so carefully around those young people will burst, and there will be a 180 degree shift from “you can be anything you want, what will make you happy”, to “just get a job”.

There’s nothing wrong with a job vs. a career. Jobs give you experience, references, build your self-esteem, provide income, get you connected with the real world, make you feel productive; as do careers.
If you’re working with someone who ‘just wants a job’, please, please, please encourage them. Even if you mean well, don’t turn around and say, “Oh but you can do so much better dear. Wouldn’t you like a nice career? Hmmmm?” The message you send is going to be that the person isn’t living up to your expectations. Who made you God anyhow?

In my opinion I’ll tell you why so many people in their late teens and early twenties are hooked on Facebook for example. As many are unemployed, they are seeking that social interaction that older workers typically get through the workplace. More mature, older workers look forward to talking with colleagues about their weekends, their families, work projects around the home, trips they are planning, events they are going to. If young people aren’t working, where are they going to get their social needs met? Facebook. Once employed and working regularly, see if they don’t experience a decline in their social media activity.

Me! Me! Me! is really not exclusively the mantra of a single generation. Some seniors I know don’t want to pay full price for anything. “Don’t I get a discount? I’m a senior you know!” Then others expect different treatment because they are a member of a group as in, “I should get a discount because I’m a Mastercard or Visa holder you know!”. Or a frequent flyer, or an employee wanting the employee discount, or even just so-and-so’s biggest fan. If everybody moves themselves to the front of the line, all that happens is the line moves from being east-west to north-south etc., we’re all still in line.

Whenever you feel you should be getting ahead, it implies by nature that you are ahead of others. You can either work your way to get ahead, or count on luck, influence, money, bribery, association or fraud. While it might take more time and effort on your part, working your way is the most rewarding and you’ll appreciate it more.

Get going on your earning your way in this world. Take some individual responsibility. Learn how to job search, interview, conduct yourself like a professional, responsible adult. Fit in, work on your people skills, get enthusiastic. Put down all your electronic gadgets and realize that for all your socializing and zillions of friends, eventually you have to actually have person-to-person conversations with real people standing in front of you.

You certainly are a unique person…just like everyone else; and while it’s okay to shoot for the stars, there are no current employers on any of them. Get your sights set on what you can do here on Earth.