24 June 2016

Gotta love Millennials

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“Gotta love Millennials…”

These words have been stuck in my head for days now. It’s the catchy refrain to a viral video by musician Micah Taylor. Set to the tune of The Beatles’ classic “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, the song describes members of the Millennial generation as entitled, lazy and just a little bit narcissistic. As Tyler points out, Millennials grew up expecting and receiving awards just for showing up. They spend all their time online and constantly post heavily-filtered Instagram selfies.

Tyler was clearly being tongue-in-cheek, but his words can be a bit disarming for members of the Millennial generation like myself (though I still prefer Generation Y as a label). In particular, the idea of entitlement can sting.

It’s not a new accusation. A Google search of the words “entitled Millennials” turns up over 1 million results. This can be a hard pill to swallow. Anecdotally, I know a lot of people my age (myself included) who have studied for years, racking up huge amounts of debt as we go, only to find it seemingly impossible to secure work in our field of choice. Many of us have spent months working for free in the hopes of advancement, often getting nowhere. In light of this, it can be a bit of a blow to be accused of an attitude of entitlement.

This isn’t just me having a whinge, either. The research backs me up. According to a recent report from the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), “under a cloud of rising debt, soaring house prices and the struggle to find secure, full-time employment, today’s young Australians are facing a very real possibility that their generation will be the first to be worse off than their parents.”

The report says young Australians are more educated than previous generations, but our education system is not managing to keep up with the changing needs of the workforce. This has resulted in youth unemployment rates staying unchanged since 1985. That means Millennials are working hard to gain an education leading to fruitful employment, but not seeing the payoff.

The FYA puts pressure on political parties, saying “leaders from all parties need to start listening to them and take action to equip young people for the challenges they face. We need to ensure they are ready to take Australia and the world forward.”

The issue of youth unemployment is on the agenda for both major political parties. As SBS reported, at a recent youth forum in Perth, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke about the Government’s work experience program. Opposition leader Bill Shorten announced Labor’s $62 million apprenticeship program, designed to encourage and enable more young people to take up a trade to find permanent work.

Clearly this is an issue that really matters. As the FYA report says, “Australia’s current youth population is the engine that will drive future prosperity and they are hungry for the chance to create a better world.” With grim job prospects and mounting debt, this chance seems harder and harder to take.

If you believe this is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed, don’t miss Akolade’s Future of Youth Employment Forum in August 2016. This event will offer up best practice strategies to advance and enable youth employment, participation and engagement in the current and future workforce.

Christian Berechree joined Akolade’s production team in May 2016. He has a Bachelor of Media and Music and a Masters in Journalism.

Christian is a musical theatre geek and a new dad, and he’ll happily spend hours telling you about either or both of those things.

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