Optimising the young workforce

I was often reminded of Des Lynam’s autobiography reading Share or Die: Voices of the Get Lost Generation in the Age of Crisis. The BBC’s sports presenter titled his book I Should Have Been At Work simply because the job he had presenting sports on television never felt like a job. It was something he just loved doing.

The same can’t be said for many of the contributors in Share or Die, who having witnessed their parents and grandparents working lives are not prepared to commit to the same drudgery or potential ill-health. After completing a university education they feel entitled to jobs that fulfil their creative minds and give them the opportunities to make a difference, all on a living wage. Yet these writers and workers graduated at the start of the worse recession in 80 years, their dreams cut down as the money ran out and jobs became few and far between.

But not everyone initially struggled. Some did land six figure salaries. At 25. Something I still can’t get my head around. They max out on credit cards as though its not really spending money. But guess what? These jobs still didn’t provide everything they were looking for. At least they had the finances to rethink their lives, affording to retrain in their new chosen vocation.

share or die front cover

Despite the negativity, doom and gloom this is a book about hope. That people can see the opportunities, that life will be different, that we need a new business model to survive both economically and environmentally. And it is, as one contributor states, about avoiding the takers in life. Instead it’s about sharing.

The last few years have brought home the combination of economic insecurity and impending ecological disaster. But there are solutions that can change this around and these don’t have to be in isolation. We need a new structure to mend the broken system; one that understands the realities of women who work, men and women who bring up children or care for elderly parents. That family life is as important as working life. Perhaps a lattice culture is required which allows workers to move sideways, diagonally, pause, switch jobs or give greater flexibility across the jobs market.

The younger generation has a lot going for it. Its more collaborative, understands how to share the tools at its disposal. They’re savvy on social networks and they know how to connect, communicate, collaborate and coordinate within a community, skills that can be beneficial in any workplace. There are endless reports that the younger generation want to make an impact, make a difference and contribute to something worthwhile. We just need to give them the chance.

Share or Die: Voices of the Get Lost Generation in the Age of Crisis is edited by Neal Gorenflo, co-founder and publisher of Shareable Magazine, a non-profit online magazine about sharing and Malcolm Harris, a writer and Life/Art channel editor at Shareable Magazine. For more information on the sharing network see my interview with Neal Gorenflo.

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