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HOW WELL ARE WE PREPARING THE NEXT GENERATION?

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 18, 2012

– Not as well as we might think.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Today we have got some very bright and ambitious young people joining the work force but they are coming at a very different time in the business world. Thanks to technology, we now live and work in a much faster paced society than what I joined just three short decades ago. It is also a much more competitive environment due to changing economic conditions. True, the Greatest Generation has basically moved along, but the Baby Boomers are still firmly in place and are not inclined to retire any time soon. This means the class of 2012 will be competing not only with people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, but also with people in their 50’s and 60’s who cannot afford to retire.

This got me thinking about how well we are preparing the next generation of workers. Are we really training them to succeed or are we setting them up to fail? Sure, they might be well educated in their professional area of expertise, but I am finding a remarkable number who lack basic street smarts. Somewhere between the safety of home and school, and the bitter realities of the real world, a void exists in preparing our youth for adulthood. In a way its like being a parachutist for the first time, except you are being pushed out the door with no instruction on what to do. This can be very traumatizing to young people who tend to be overwhelmed by the responsibilities of adult life.

In school, students were only concerned with attending class, absorbing the material, eating and their social life. However, in adulthood they suddenly have to face such things as insurance, taxes, housing, transportation, banking, investments, retirement accounts, health care, nutrition, paying bills, corporate cultures, etiquette, dress, career development, business ethics, office politics, networking, employment, management, etc. Oh yea, and Work. They may have been adequately trained for their profession, but nobody is preparing them to make the transition into adulthood.

The parents haven’t prepared them. If anything, they have sheltered their youth from reality for far too long. For example, many kids today have not had to mow a lawn, clean a dish, push a broom, or hold a part-time job. Instead, they were free to concentrate on their homework and video games. In other words, parents have failed to instill the concept of simple responsibility and the value of a dollar. A lot of parents today are “hands-off” meaning they are content to let others raise their children for them, be it a relative, a nanny, a coach, or a teacher, thereby providing them with some free time to rest and relax.

The teachers haven’t prepared them either, but in their defense this shouldn’t be in their job description. Instead, they should be concerned with teaching academic subjects, such as math, literature, languages, science, etc. However, since a lot of mom and dads have dropped the ball, teachers have been forced to become surrogate parents, something they are not necessarily trained in or suited for.

Ultimately, this means today’s corporate managers are inheriting a generation of naive young people with unbridled enthusiasm who are having difficulty adapting to the corporate world. Many of this generation seem to believe they are uniquely different, that the old established rules of today’s corporate culture no longer applies to them; that corporations must adapt to them, not the other way around. Such naivety can be dangerous and lead to their demise as reality sets in.

To overcome this problem, perhaps we can help our youth by devising a new type of curriculum that would teach such things as:

* Personal Organization – e.g., managing finances, insurance, housing, transportation, etc.

* Adapting to the Corporate Culture – how to understand the culture and adapt to it. This would include discussions on business ethics, and studying change.

* Professional Development – teaching concepts of craftsmanship, continuous improvement, and basic business skills.

* Social Skills – how to effectively communicate and socialize in an office environment.

* Do’s and Don’ts in the Workplace – discussing the realities of employment, company policy manuals, and other legal issues.

* Management 101 – teaching basic management concepts and rules to help “newbies” fit into the corporate culture.

Actually, none of this is new. We have all had to learn it through the School of Hard Knocks. However, if the next generation is to ever have a chance in today’s fast paced world, we have to jump-start this process for them. Otherwise they will have difficulty surviving. Basically, what is needed is just some simple parental advice.

Keep the Faith!

NOTE: A lot of this is explained in my book, “Morphing into the Real World – The Handbook for Entering the Work Force”

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
THE PRETRIAL SYSTEM: A TALE OF TWO COUNTIES – How two neighboring Tampa Bay counties offer distinctly different approaches for processing accused criminals.

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6 Responses to “HOW WELL ARE WE PREPARING THE NEXT GENERATION?”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    An S.C. of Florida wrote…

    “I have been out of touch with your well written and explained articles. Out of town guests will do that to me all the time. The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was to shower and dress, sit down at the computer and read what you are discussing today. Right on! This topic is relavant and, as usual, well written.”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A B.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    “YOU WROTE: In school, students were only concerned with attending class, absorbing the material, eating and their social life.

    And, I might add, they are not (repeat, not) being taught HOW TO LEARN. They are been fed information and being asked to regurgitate it verbatim without understanding how it is you learn things on your own and make it part of your persona. I know this from personal experience with both daughters. The eldest one was an honors student all the way thru her first 2 years in college. When she entered pharamacy school, suddenly native intelligence wasn’t enough anymore…and she failed at something for the first time in her life. She was devastated. I got her the help she needed, and she eventually got her degree, but I found the younger daughter likewise never learned “how to learn.”

    YOU WROTE: However, in adulthood they suddenly have to face such things as insurance, taxes, housing, transportation, banking, investments, retirement accounts, health care, nutrition, paying bills, corporate cultures, etiquette, dress, career development, business ethics, office politics, networking, employment, management, etc. Oh yea, and Work. They may have been adequately trained for their profession, but nobody is preparing them to make the transition into adulthood.

    BOTH my daughters were STUNNED when they got their first paychecks when working – all the deductions and taxes. Then, when both of them turned 21-ish, they both called me to tell me that “being an adult sucked.” I simply told them “welcome to the real world – it gets worse.” And, while the older one (33) is fully set up in her home with a decent 401k and salary as a pharmacist, the younger (26) is still struggling to get past the “living from paycheck to paycheck” mode – despite the fact that I am the mortgage owner on their home and they pay me rent (the only thing I can “control” to help them get into a position where they can take over the mortgage and get on their own).”

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A J.P. of Toronto, Ontario wrote…

    “Very true! A well written essay with accurate insight into the reality of the situation.

    I can remember, long ago now, my first introduction to the value of money. Until about age 15 or so I had been a coddled child, not necessarily spoiled, but insulated from some real world realities. I signed up, after school that summer, to go house to house trying to sell magazine subscriptions. There was an entire inventory- Time,Life, Newsweek, Better Homes and Gardens, Popular Mechanics – and so on and so forth. There were about ten of us, working different parts of a large city and its suburbs, with a central manager, himself a university student, who got a 1/4 cut of any commission we made. If one could sell a yearly subscription to even one of the magazines, one received for oneself a $3.00 commission.

    My head danced with likely possibilities! Why, in one day, if I sold twenty subscriptions, I would make $60! Wow! Remember, this was 1959.

    Instead, I trudged up and down streets all day, and the next, and the next. People were not home. Elderly ladies berated me for disturbing them. A drunk took a clumsy swipe at me at one place. My calves grew sore, my flat feet ached, and finally, at last, one very nice lady sighed up for a yearly LIFE subscription. That took me all day and 3/4 of the next! Two weeks later a cheque arrived in the mail with my name on it – from the main company – for $3.00. I said to my father, ” Jeesh, all that work, all that sweat, all that time, all that rejection, and I earned three dollars….

    My father made two points I never forgot, left-wing as I am as an adult: 1. “That cheque says ‘ pay to the order of,’ and means you command that money as earned, not given. You have every right to be proud of that. This is a lot different, John, than money I might give you for cutting the lawn, or an allowance.” 2. Do you now understand what your mother and I mean when we talk aboout ‘the value of money,’ or say things like, ‘Money does not grow on trees’ ?” Think of the effort, the sweat and the work you had to do to earn those three dollars out in the world on your own. John. To this or that degree, this is what most men face ( It was, after all, 1959, and dad was never very politically correct in automatically including women in his economic thinking.) earning the money to house, cloth and feed a family. That, my boy, is the real world – and you have just had a first taste.”

    My father, however, did go on: “Now, John, I think you should quit this particular job.( I already had, because I was discouraged.) His following remarks were significant in my life as well. “You are doing what in sales is called ‘cold-calling,’ the hardest way to sell anything. The person making the real money is your controller, who does not pound the pavement or get sore feet. He sits in a car, or at home, and he collects that fourth dollar on every sale all ten of you make. I believe, because of your youth, you are being used to some extent.” Of course, that got my head moving in a rather different connection.

    Today, in Ontario, our High School students must complete several hundred hours of community service before they can graduate. I am not at all sure how I feel about that, because it takes away from the academic preparation, learning and time that should, as you note above, be the primary mission of the school, as a school.”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    An O.B. of Macon, Georgia wrote…


    “YOU WROTE: Basically, what is needed is just some simple parental advice.”

    or older folks that will take a younger person and act as a mentor.”

    Like

  5. Tim Bryce said

    A K.E. of Sacramento, California wrote…

    “You ought to teach these courses!”

    TIM’S REPLY: Thanks. I developed a presentation for this (using MS Powerpoint) after I wrote my book on the subject. The only problem is that schools don’t have any money to conduct the presentation.

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “Many of our friends are finding that their children are financially irresponsible. They spend a lot of money on vacations, concerts, and luxuries, but do not save or pay their rent and utility bills. Our children all started working as soon as they were old enough to have a paper route or babysit. We taught them to budget and be thrifty. I’m afraid a lot of parents did not prepare their kids to work hard and live on a budget. These kids have had everything given to them and often expect employers to be an extension of their parents. It really is a disservice to all. “

    Like

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