Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Does The Future Hold For Our Aimless Youth?

The young people we know as Generation “Y” will soon overtake the rapidly retiring boomer generation in the workforce. When that changing of the guard comes to full fruition, the young people of today will be expected to keep the country running by filling all of the jobs and running all of the organizations that their Boomer predecessors leave behind.

 In every generation, there are keeners; those amazingly talented, intelligent, resourceful people who know what they are good at, what they want, and how to go out and get it. However, many of the young people who graduate from high school and make their way into the workforce every year are frankly, dazed and confused...they don’t know what to do and they are afraid of what the future holds. Through no fault of their own, they are aimless and lost in a sea of bewilderment.
Considering the amazing amount of contradiction and misinformation that Boomer and Generation “X” parents have tossed at Generation “Y” all their lives, it is no wonder many of them are aimless. They have been praised, protected, doted on and rewarded by parents and teachers all of their lives. They have no idea what overcoming obstacles means and they have a profound lack of understanding of the subtleties and cruelties of the business world. They have been taught to believe in themselves and have an ingrained faith that they will succeed. However, as they near the precipice of independence, they are beginning to realize that neither their parents nor teachers prepared them for real jobs in the real world. They simply have no idea what they might excel at or where their talents might be best utilized.
Generation “Y” has a fundamental belief that they should never settle for second best. They want to start at the top of the pay scale and they believe they should have everything their parents have, almost immediately after they leave home. Because of their liberal and generous upbringings, many young folks make it all the way to high school graduation without ever contemplating the fact that they will ultimately be singularly responsible for their own lives. Imagine the horror of leaving the nest without a mature, functional pair of wings!
Parents and teachers in most cases have done a less than effective job of preparing our young people for the real world.  They did not encourage them into any particular profession or career path. Oh sure, they bought them laptop computers and I-phones and they told them they would be great at whatever they did as long as they did their best, but they did not map out a clear path for adult success.  Many parents and teachers told kids that they should become computer literate, get a good education and avoid dirty jobs where physical labour is involved.  Of course, they wanted the best for their kids when they provided all of that support, but they did not think it through; they did not balance their encouragement and advice with research and practicality so that they could provide clear direction to their progeny. Hence, many of our youths are wandering the streets, avenues, and shopping malls of North America with a deeply embedded sense of despair and no clear plan for their lives. Here is what they might be thinking:
“Should I be a doctor, a lawyer, a pharmacist, a writer, a teacher, a computer programmer, a rock star, a movie star, a disc jockey, an entrepreneur, an employee, a CEO or a taxi driver? Mom and Dad told me I would do well at anything I tried but what in the name of Bill Gates and Britney Spears, should I try? I don’t know what to do!” 
 It is never too late to help your children find their true calling. The first thing you need to do is sit down with them and ask them what they want to do. Do not assume that what you want for them is the right thing because if you try to force them to do something that you feel would make a wonderful occupation for them you might find that it is quite the opposite of what they want. In the worst case scenario you might also eventually find out that they are simply not capable of doing well at it after spending thousands of dollars on education costs. Let’s face it, everyone cannot be a great surgeon or a skilled airline pilot and in both cases, the practitioners of those occupations must be extremely good at what they do. Just doing their best when their best is not good enough will not cut it.
Create an unthreatening, safe environment and have an open, honest discussion with your kids about what they want and then agree to help them achieve it. If they are completely confused and simply have no idea what they want to do, you might have to dig deeper. In that case, you can employ a professional employment counsellor to work with him or her. That can be quite costly however, so for much less expense, you can do a skills and talent assessment that will point you both in the right direction. Most assessments can be done online with a report generated on your computer within seconds of the survey being completed. They are very accurate and extremely helpful. For maximum clarity and impartiality you should have a trained professional debrief you and your son or daughter on the report. Once you have been through it, you will have a much better idea of what sort of occupation your kids belong in.
Once you have accepted that they have no plan for the future, ask them if they know where they want go and what they want to do. Make it clear that even though their direction might not be what you expected, it is okay with you and that you will support them.  Do not make the assumption that they will get by on their brilliance and sparkling personalites. Although they might seem mature to you, they are just young impressionable people who need a boost from you to make the next big step in their lives.
You created them and they are yours from birth until death. You owe them every opportunity to succeed.
All the Best
Wayne Kehl

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