How well are we preparing the next generation?

“There’s only one problem with common sense; it’s not very common.”
– Bryce’s law

We now have some very bright and ambitious young people joining the workforce, but they are coming into the business world at a very different time. Thanks to technology, we now live and work in a much faster society than the one I joined just three decades ago. It is also a much more competitive environment due to changing economic conditions. Granted, the largest generation has essentially moved along, but the baby boomers are still firmly in place and not inclined to retire any time soon. This means that the class of 2007 will not only compete with people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, but also those in their 50s and 60s who can’t afford to retire.

This got me thinking about how well we prepare the next generation of workers. Do we really train them to succeed or do we use them to fail? Sure, they may be well trained in their professional field, but I find a remarkable number of people who lack basic street knowledge. Somewhere between the safety of home and school, and the bitter realities of the real world, there is a void in preparing our youth for adulthood. In a way, it’s like being a parachutist for the first time, except you’re shoved out the door with no instructions on what to do. This can be very traumatizing for young people who tend to be overwhelmed by the responsibilities of adult life.

At school, students were only concerned with attending class, absorbing the material, eating and social life. But now that they are adults, they are suddenly confronted with issues such as insurance, taxes, housing, transportation, banking, investments, retirement accounts, health care, nutrition, paying bills, corporate cultures, etiquette, clothing, career development, business ethics, office politics, networking, employment , management, etc. Oh yes, and work. Although they are adequately trained for their profession, no one prepares them for the transition to adulthood.

The parents have not prepared them. If anything, they’ve kept their childhood hidden from reality for far too long. For example, many children today don’t have to mow the lawn, do the dishes, push a broom, or have a part-time job. Instead, they were free to focus on their homework and video games. In other words, parents have failed to instill the concept of simple responsibility and the value of a dollar. Many parents today are “hands-off”, meaning they are content to let others raise their children for them, be it a family member, a nanny, a coach or a teacher, giving them some free time to explore. to rest and relax.

The teachers didn’t prepare them either, but in their defense, this shouldn’t be in their job description. Instead, they should be concerned with teaching academic subjects, such as math, literature, languages, science, etc. However, as many parents have dropped the ball, teachers have been forced to become substitute parents, something they don’t necessarily trained in or suitable for.

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Ultimately, this means that today’s business leaders inherit a generation of naive young people with unbridled enthusiasm who have trouble adapting to the corporate world. Many of this generation seem to believe that they are uniquely different, that the old established rules of today’s corporate culture no longer apply to them; that companies should adapt to them, not the other way around. Such naivety can be dangerous and lead to their downfall as reality sets in.

To solve this problem, perhaps we can help our young people by designing a new type of curriculum that teaches things like:

  • Personal organization – e.g. managing finances, insurance, housing, transportation, etc.
  • Adapting to corporate culture – how to understand and adapt to the culture. This includes discussions about business ethics and studying change.
  • Professional development – teaching concepts of craftsmanship, continuous improvement and basic business skills.
  • Social skills – how to communicate and socialize effectively in an office environment.
  • Do’s and Don’ts in the Workplace – discussing the realities of employment, corporate policy guides and other legal issues.
  • Management 101 – teaching basic management concepts and rules to help “newbies” fit into the corporate culture.

Actually, none of this is new. We all had to learn it through the School of Hard Knocks. However, if the next generation is ever to have a chance in today’s fast-paced world, we need to get this process started for them. Otherwise they will struggle to survive. In short, what is needed is just some simple parenting advice.

If you want to talk to me about this in more depth, don’t hesitate to send me an email.

Keep the faith.