Recently I had seen a feature article in Newsweek magazine entitled “Generation Screwed,” (millennials) about those between the age of 18-36. Of course, this article was dealing with mainly the United States population in this age group, yet you could apply this template to pretty much most of us within this age range in the developed world. Canadian magazine MacLeans published a similar article in December, 2010. Here are some interesting facts pertaining to Generation Screwed from a infograph earlier this year in the US:
In case you are not familiar, many experts are predicting this generation is going to have a very difficult time reaching the echelon of our baby boomer, and even our generation counterparts in terms of prosperity. We will be worse off. Increased demand on our health care system, demand on the Canadian Pension Plan system will definitely test the public system. It will increase the nation’s debt loads. Add to that the Great Recession back in 2008 slammed baby boomer private pension plans back years, is causing them to retire later than sooner. Oh, don’t forget the mountains of consumer debt they have too and you have one part of the ticking time bomb.
Now, on the flip side, generation Yers are facing, consumer debt along with mortgage sized student loan debt, plus the lack of current good job opportunities as baby boomers are reluctant to retire.
Mix all of those and you have the potential for what could be a booby trap. Here are some reason’s why:
- Regardless, generation Yers are going to somehow and someway pay for baby boomers expenses, either direct or indirect. It is going to come directly via through higher taxes, and paying through our pocketbook to insure that there is money to cover health care and public pensions. It will come indirectly as the lack of high quality jobs for post secondary grad will force those to take McJobs. Yep. That is right, Mc Jobs.
- As this generation continues to work in dingy, low paying jobs, ideas of owning a house will likely become a pipe dream. You can forget about owning that nice 4 bedroom house, so might as well go for that modest apartment. Owning property could become a foregone conclusion for our generation because we are broke!
Some baby boomers may not worry about this. Granted, heck, they think we are the spoiled generation. However, I argue that you should be worried for we need high paying jobs to pay for your retirement. We need high paying jobs to pay for your health care. We want a decent career. We want some fun. Heck, maybe we even want to buy your houses as you will need someone to buy them.
I sit here thinking, perhaps are generation is screwed. The jobs aren’t there. The houses are too expensive. Plus, the stress level is getting to us. I am not as rosy as I was a year or two ago. I could blame the Great Recession, with companies using it as an excuse not to hiring. I could blame it on the lack of entrepreneurial spirit in Manitoba. I could blame it on the rise of unpaid internships. Might as well pack it in, right.
However, while we may be screwed, here are some suggestions that may help out.
One, its going to suck, but the days of tax cuts may need to come to an end. We may have to face the piper and accept that higher income people should take a tax increase. Yep, as much as I would love to have a tax cut, if it meant keeping our public health system and Canadian Pension Plan system at least sustainable in order for baby boomers to retire earlier, I would definitely take it.
Second, large companies need to stop it with the “unpaid” internships. Seriously. While internships are a really wonderful idea in nature and allow for recent grads to get experience, the economy, as a whole loses as what would normally been paid out in wages, gets ciphered back to corporate profits. Please instead put these unpaid internships into wages, or at least offer employment within a company after a short period of time.
Third solution could either compliment number one, or in the very least be a substitute, promote creating small business and entrepreneurs. If the Great Recession has taught us anything, was the giant behemoths after bounced back. They continue to make astronomical profits. Allowing new and innovative small businesses would entice higher earning jobs. Maybe entrepreneurism is the best way to go here.
Fourth, ramp up private R&D in Canada. More investments in private R&D would spur new products, innovation and new jobs for post-secondary grads. Canada ranks as near the middle to lower in the pack with regards to private R&D. More attention should be paid to this.
Fifth, lastly, colleges and universities need better career councillors to provide current career advice. Without those connections in the real world, graduates will struggle and wonder why there $10,000+ investment in post secondary education was worth it.
Generation screwed still has some hope. I tend to like and am supportive of the potential of our generation. And who to say there is not. After all, this generation is one of the most educated, passionate, and well-trained generations, ever. We are pumping out college graduated out of the ying-yang. Author Don Tapscott, has written numerous times about our generation, including the best-selling books, Grown Up Digital, and Macrowikinomics. Don’s energy is perhaps why, maybe I have not completely lost all hope, as he states below from his 2009 book Grown up Digital:
“If Growing Up Digital Got anything right, it was the assertion that this generation will change the world. They are already bringing and implementing radical views regarding the way business should be conducted and about the process of democratic governance. They are a generation that can learn together, as a unified generation, unlike any other. They are seeking to protect the planet and they find racism, sexism, and other vile remnants of bygone days to be both weird and unacceptable. They will seek to share in the wealth they create. They will want power in every domain of economic and political life.
The big remaining question for older generations is whether that power will be shared with gratitude-or whether we will stall until a new generation grabs it from us. Will we have the wisdom and courage to accept them, their culture, and their media? Will we be effective in offering our experience to help them manage the dark side? will we grant them the opportunity to fulfill their destiny? I think this will be a better place if we do?” (P. 310)
Don’s words echo so true today. However, that window is slowing closing faster than a speeding bullet, however. This problem is going to take more than just protesting in the streets, or even some of the suggestions I have given. It may be a even deeper conversation that needs to go further. But the question overall is, will our political and business leaders answer before we as a generation are toast?