Unrealistic/Idealistic Job Expectations?
I just read a post about a person who posted a "self-righteous and scathing" job resignation on a social network.
There are a couple things that really caught my attention in the post:
"Experts wouldn’t be surprised if this is only the beginning: The Internet offers an easily grasped platform for a new generation of 20-something workers who’ve grown up social media-mad, consumer crazy and idealistic about their careers, they say."
"She points to hard data from the United States, including large-scale surveys of high school students conducted annually since the 1970s, that show young workers have developed higher expectations for their careers —they want higher paying, higher status jobs coupled with more work-life balance. While the number of people who actually attain that success has remained steady, the expectations have shot through the roof, she said, so it’s inevitable for some to be angered by their perceived professional failures.
There’s also been a democratization of the workplace and the classroom, creating spheres in which everyone’s opinion is valid, Dr. Twenge said. Generally speaking, authority-questioning baby boomers have raised children with the same sensibilities but with far higher self-esteem, she said. They’ve also lived on a steady diet of social media and Internet savvy, making the online world the most natural place to air “dirty laundry and share a community of likemindedness,” added Bruce Tulgan, author of Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How To Manage Generation Y."
I completely disagree that younger workers have become more idealistic about job expectations. Everyone assesses their expectations according to what they see around them and we have been experiencing a declining opportunity job market. Relative wages for the same kind of work has been declining. For example, growing up my mother dropped out of high school in grade 10, was a teen mom and had 3 children by age 22. She worked full-time, and with child support from my father she was able to afford to rent a 3-bedroom house, not an apartment, buy a new car, save for a down payment on a home. I got lots of xmas presents, although I'd say new clothes were pretty lean. But overall, my mother had a lifestyle that although money was always tight, we never went without, had some entertainment, and she was able to put some aside for building for a future, at least that was so once my younger brother no longer needed day care because he was in school.
In my own youth when I made the decision to go to university I was told there were job fairs at universities and most people found a job at these job fairs their last year in school and that I would never be for want of a job with a university degree. Additionally, this was especially so because I was in the sciences. I had many friends recently out of university and they shared what they were making and they all made very good wage increases every year I was in university. When I got out the market reality was the starting wage expectations were probably about 75-80% of what my friend's starting wages had been and those jobs that were available had practically no benefits. By the time I got out the starting salary available was about half of what friends who had graduated 5-8 years earlier were earning. These friends were my age as I didn't go straight to university from high school. At the same time the housing market had been making double digit gains the entire time I was in university, so housing prices had doubled.
There is no question in my mind if you look at the data of how many go through university these days it far exceeds the numbers in the past. Page 4 in this shows that between 1980 and 2000 the population went from 16.2% to 24.4% for people with a university degree or higher. In 1970 it was 10.7%. The data is showing that all age groups increased their education level over the years. If you look back at the 1990 data, the 25-29 age group had 22.7% university, whereas 10 years later it is 27.2%, a roughly 20% increase in the number of graduates competing for the same number of jobs that give the lifestyle they were constantly told they would attain if they went to university. I didn't find easy to access numbers of the 25-29 age group for the 70s, but a roughly 130% increase in university graduates suggests that the rate was considerably lower. Yet, as stated above, the numbers who attain that success remain constant, yet clearly far far more young people are working hard to try and achieve that success so you would expect that more have higher expectations.
One of the thoughts that went through my mind at our high school graduation last month as I listened to every speaker, they all gave the same message to our graduates, continue in school and you will get a good job. It simply isn't true anymore, and I am probably quite different in how I talk to my students about their options. Certainly I tell them they need high school or no one will give them a job, but I don't promise them that education is the end all and be all to success. I tend to emphasis the need to be a hard and responsible worker and that you might get a job, but you need these to keep a job, and be hired back first and to get reference should you be laid off, which is common in today's economy. There is actually tons of opportunity in the north still, but I talk to my students about the need to remain competitive against those who will come when they can't find work where they live. Trades are actually far more important for the types off opportunities that exist.
In any event, I don't think their expectations are unrealistic compared to what their lives have taught and shown them, however, the competition is way up for the amount of career training young people have done and the opportunity is most likely down because of the cuts to employment and lack of job growth just keeping up with population growth. Expectations have not adjusted to this different reality and overall the older and wiser that guide them have not given them realistic expectation of the true nature of the economy they face.