“In what ways, if at all, do the capabilities and demands of the Millennial Generation differ from their predecessors? How should corporate employment practices adapt to the Millennial Generation?"
It is without a doubt that dynamics of labor and capital markets have shifted rapidly over the last few years. When I was born in 1993, the US equity market was about the begin the largest rally in history, unemployment was starting to decline after a rough start to the 90s, crude was below $25 a barrel and Debbie Gibson’s Anything is Possible was probably still all over the radio. Those born in the 80s and 90s, referred to as millennials, essentially rode a wave of optimism in regards to future growth and opportunities.
Many of my fellow Millennials, said to be those born in the early 80s to early 00s, may not have gotten the memo that times have changed. To be fair, millennials are a product of their upbringings and the generation is the first to walk into a new landscape that is likely to be the normal (or abnormal) state moving forward. Opportunities are not as prevalent today as were expected, the fastest growing jobs did not exist just a few years ago and wages have been capped by global competitiveness.
Although we cannot change the fact that global growth is unlikely to reach escape velocity, nor can we change wage suppression from global competition, the skills mismatch can be addressed. For innovative companies looking to adapt employment practices to the Millennial Generation and face this skills mismatch in the market, opportunities on the employee and employer front can be created.
Corporate employers must first recognize that moral is low in the Millennial labor market. Expectations have fallen dramatically and the fact that the skills required for top jobs were not available to study in university is all the more disconcerting, especially if loans were taken out for the higher level education. Regardless of the soundness of decisions made, through recognizing this employers can appropriately build competitive training and rotational programs applicable to the business.
Millennials are sponges who absorb thoughts, ideas and skills of interest. They are incredibly resourceful and will work above and beyond the 9 to 5 when they love their work. The internet has given a generation access to information at the tip of a finger (literally) and there is truly an eagerness to apply this knowledge and information in a skillful fashion. The current education system fails in some respect to stimulate this passion or connect ability with technical skill. That gap between what Millennials want in terms of work/training and what they are currently receiving can be leveraged by employers willing to invest in the labor force.
If a driven Millennial candidate can be connected in the industry or work area of his or her interest, former generations will be surprised by how quickly the candidate will run. Investing in rotational training programs give a Millennial the opportunity to move quickly and realize what he or she likes and dislikes. When one truly loves his or her job, that person will most likely do well in the position, work more efficiently and be the best possible candidate for the company.
Employers should fund innovative ways to find and retain young, motivated and driven Millennials. Proper investment should begin early through apprenticeships during high school, paid internships during university and rotational programs post-graduation. These employers will find excellent and loyal candidates for years to come.
Although Millennials are starting their early careers in a tougher economic environment, by no way does this mean they should sit back and wait for a job to find them. Young persons will likely need to work harder and longer than their parents and this should not be dismissed. Millennials should be immersing themselves in a range of industries while embracing non-traditional, challenging paths. Nothing is more damaging than to ignore the underlying fundamentals shaping the rest of one’s life. Millennials should recognize difficulties and competitiveness and seek out employers who invest in the proper training of entry-level employees.
And although there is an incredibly large skills gap in the labor market for jobs that did not exist just a few years ago, that is no excuse for employers to sit back and wait for the less dynamic education system to adapt. Slowing global growth and a more demanding investment environment hits the bottom-line, but corporations must continue to invest in current and former workers. By investing in alternative and innovative recruiting methods, the best candidates can be found to fill key positions. Instead of waiting for Silicon Valley to disrupt the hiring market, individual companies should be tailoring talent acquisition processes to see how candidates do in simulations that mimic the role to which they are applying.
And in closing, the Credit Suisse - Project Firefly partnership is a testament to true merit based recruiting and companies should embrace such thought leadership organizations. A resume, GPA or alma-mater is one thing, but representing one’s knowledge technically is another.