Last week, I talked with several young people who were looking for jobs. The group–largely in their 20s–seemed a little bitter that their hard work in college and the significant financial investment made by their parents only landed them back at home. Some recent surveys show as high as 80% of this age group living with their parents and the unemployment for the same group at slightly over 30%.
It’s easy to blame this on the economy and comparative generalized unemployment numbers. But in conversations with them, they share some alarming insights. They are, in fact, getting opportunities to apply and interview for jobs. They don’t seem convinced that jobs are not out there. But they say they are competing for those jobs not just with their peer groups but also with many from groups and generations ahead of them with much more experience.
Most of the people I talked to went to some very prestigious and expensive schools, commensurate with their own high SAT scores and elevated high school rankings. They were atop of the world graduating High School and College, only to find that the playing field got level very fast in the real world, and someone with 5-10 years more experience than them was willing to take half the salary and probably outperform them, based on experience alone.
No one–not parents, not universities, not peers, not the media–nobody seemed to have prepared them for this. One young lady said,“I spent hours working to take my grade from an B to A or an A to an A+ when that time would have been better served by exploring the world and networking outside of my school.”
At Thanksgiving this week, I pray we will all be with our families and extended families. I urge you to have this discussion with your family, nephews, nieces, parents, and others. I hate imposing my personal values on others, but I can’t imagine that there are too many parents out there who do not want their children to grow up and be successful. The abdication of the responsibility to schools is a serious disservice to this value.
So take 30 minutes out of the discussion of this year’s Christmas gift sharing, of what are the cool toys and gadgets, of which celebrity or relative screwed up, or which sports team you are pulling for. Instead–talk about the future of the world and where and how the younger people in your family will need to be prepared to survive in it. It may be the best gift you can give them on Thanksgiving.