Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

It’s the age of social media where every business should have a 20-something in their team, but is there resistance from baby boomer and Generation X employers?

Australian businesses could be missing out on a potent pool of talent by avoiding recruiting younger highly educated staff, new research has found.

 

Baby with briefcase

Higher education doesn’t guarantee well paid employment

The research jointly produced by AMP and the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NCSEM) titled We Can Work it Out – Australia’s Changing Workforce found that seven per cent of 20 to 29 year olds with post HSC qualifications were working in sales roles – the highest of all age demographics.

The report also found that the unemployment rate for young people aged from 15 to 19, looking for full-time work was about 4.5 times the national average.

“One barrier for young people getting into the workforce is that employers are looking for people with experience, and young people can’t get experience in a field without a job.

“This can mean many young people continue in their part-time university jobs after they’ve finished studying, so we see people with degrees working as sales people or in hospitality,” the report authors wrote.

More Australians with degrees than ever before

Overall, the number of people with bachelor degree qualification or higher has risen steadily from 15 per cent in 2001 to reach an historical peak of 25 per cent in 2013.

Jack Delosa, founder of education institute The Entourage and 2014 BRW Young Rich Lister, said that businesses were exercising a dangerous prejudice toward Generation Y.

Jack said that while those prejudices had some foundation the characteristics of the Gen Y could readily be turned into strengths rather than negatives.

“My generation, unfortunately, doesn’t have the respect for discipline that previous generations had. However, they are prepared to go the extra mile over and over again if they truly believe they should,” says Jack.

Jack said that the difference between Gen Y and previous generations was due to their cultivation in a period of historically rapid social, political and technological change.

“They can learn any skills, which mean that they don’t have a high appreciation for knowledge because it’s free and easily accessible but they do have a high appreciation for inspiration and experience and that’s what they hunger for,” he said.

Jack argued that properly inspired Gen Y employees would work harder than they need to without asking for overtime [pay].

However, he conceded that Gen Y workers could be difficult as they have a stronger sense of entitlement than previous generations that experienced the privations of recession and lower prosperity.

“Leadership is offering the inspiration and influence to enable someone to want to do it rather than doing it because they have to do it,”

- Jack Delosa, The Entourage

Employers should capitalise on entrepreneurial flare

“Gen Y from a global, political and economic perspective has had it very good. We haven’t lived through any serious wars. We haven’t lived through any serious depression. In some ways we’ve had cotton wool wrapped around us,” he said.

However, he said that business could play to those attributes to harness their entrepreneurial potential.

“You need to be very clear on the values and DNA of your businesses and that will determine the DNA and values of the people you’re bringing into your business.

“The second thing is to have a compelling vision and I don’t mean for the company but for each project and department. Ask ‘what is the greater purpose that we’re all trying to achieve here?’” he advised.

Lastly, Jack said that business owners needed to take a leadership approach to Gen Y staff rather than an authoritative approach.

“Leadership is offering the inspiration and influence to enable someone to want to do it rather than doing it because they have to do it,” Jack says.

Interested in finding out more?

 Download a full copy of the report here.

Find Out More

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