The Millennials at work, conflicts and perspectives
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News of the 08/04/2016

Stuck between the Xs and the Zs, the Y generation shows great difficulties to succeed on the employment level. It just doesn’t. You were born during the couple of decades before the millennium? Whether you pay a visit to looking for office space solutions or not, you might be interested by the following.

It’s a sad picture that we must sketch of the Millennials, people born right before 2000, aged from 17 to 36, and who have to deal with the post-2000 crises (economy, accommodation, ecology, religion, etc.). However, you will see that all the ingredients are at hand for the Yers (pronounced why-ers) to keep their heads up. Let’s start with the concept.

Millennials at work

There were baby-boomers (post-war) then baby-crashers (those who are called the generation X by sociologists). Today we take interest in the Y generation. It has many more names: millennials because they passed the millennium at the spring of their lives; Tanguys (according to the French movie) because they often live at their parents’ place after hitting their 30’s, the generation why because they often wonder the question why; the numeric natives because they are born with this technology and handle it instinctively; they’re also called the boomerang generation, because they often leave the parental home and even the country to look if the grass is greener elsewhere, and come back after they failed to find it; etc.

Their position in the business world is not appealing at all, mainly because there is a gap between what was expected of them and the means that were given to them to meet those expectations. Their parents often encourage them to study more than they did in their time, as the figures from the French institute of statistics and economic analysis (INSEE) for the year 2014 show: 22,5% of baby-boomers, aged 50 to 64, have a graduate degree, while the 25-49 are 39,4% (in 2004 they were 27,9%, showing a clear rise during the last decade); but on the other hand, they are 9,3% unemployed against 6,9% for the elders. And the 15-24 (also considered as Millennials) know 23,4% of unemployment even though 15,7% of them have graduated. The conclusion is simple: diploma does not help them to find a job. Therefore, Yers are overqualified for the jobs they find. Most of them take a temporary job, without any link with their field of competences. They often simply keep their student’s job, as they could not find the one of their dream.

Why is it so ?

To be honest, the job of their dream does exist, but is underpaid or too new. Millennials rushed in sectors that used to be booming or were supposed to, such as commerce or new technologies, and then which suffered a trend reversal: too many applicants on the trade, causing an employment draught in those areas. The matter of new technologies is even worse because of the misunderstanding of elders, who depreciate them. “You seriously ask 3K€ to write Facebook and Twitter posts?”, “You want to learn 3D? It’s not a career, it’s a hobby!”, “Change my website please, only the payment solution, the sharing module and the graphic charter, it is going to take a few clicks isn’t it? What? I have to pay (that much)?”, are comments we can often and still ear in employment agencies, during job interviews and even with clients.

The slogan “No future” of the 80’s was prophetic. By an ironic twist, it concerns the children of those who shouted it against their gentrified elders. A study of The Guardian puts the situation of people in their 30’s in perspective with the previous generations. The “No Future” slogan is actually much more appropriate for the Millenials generation. In the UK, Canada, Germany, USA, Spain, Italy as in France, 25 to 29 years old people earn less than the national average and retired people earn widely more. In France, the gap is significant: millennials are 8% under and retired people 49% over. It is the first time in the modern era that the standard of living decreases in comparison to the previous generations. We can legitimately wonder why.

In addition, the successors of the Yers are already well adapted to the general torment, because they are less embarrassed by the expectations induced by the X generation, such as: having a stable and well-paying job, owning a house and having children before hitting 30, or at least two out of three, otherwise you are a failure. Zs are more free than the Yers. In sociology as well as in biology, those who adapt live better.

Wait and see ?

Depressed labour market, lack of recognition from the elders and certitude that the youngers will overtake them, are the Yers a wasted generation? Let’s not fool ourselves. If they are a whole generation having trouble to find happiness in work, when it is not only some employment, the effect upon other matters in life is going to be tough in the long run: burn-outs, depressions, family building put aside, decrease of births, loss of purchasing power, etc.

The situation is dark and full of pitfalls, but the slope could be gentler with the help of the actors of the world of work. Many analysts highlight, among the causes, the rigidity of employers from the X and also from the Yers. As we said before, they are too often unlikely to pay for occupations they consider as leisure, or which are dematerialised.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in the voice of its secretary general Angel Gurría, estimates that straightening the situation for the Millennials is an emergency: “Kicking it down the road will hurt our children and society as a whole.” Sustainable development is one way amongst others, a tool to help the Millennials. Companies hold the cards for a better future.

  • Génération Y
  • Millennials
  • Génération Y