Generation Y







“Your generation is nothing but a bunch of computer addicted slackers. You kids don’t care about anything.” These phrases and others can be overheard coming from the mouths of baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, and other Generation Y predecessors (“What happened” 1). For years now, Generation Y, those born between 1977 and now, have been viewed negatively (Alch 1). Though the origins of the “slacker” title are uncertain, the term has certainly stuck. It could be considered a fitting title. After all, Generation Y performs poorly in school, has no motivation to work, and doesn’t get involved with the issues, right? Well no, not exactly. Generation Y is largely misunderstood. They’re actually extremely concerned with what goes on around them and are working harder than ever. These people are well on their way to reshaping society as we know it.
Generation Y is a confident generation, with high self-esteem. They are opinionated and value their privacy (Article 15 1). They have a strong work ethic and have grown up understanding the electronic economy. Unlike their predecessors, Generation Y has demonstrated a sense of responsibility by having part time jobs while in high school and college. Often, they even help pay for their schooling (Alch 1). Clearly, it is worth taking a second glance before prematurely judging this generation.
Sure, young Americans are addicted to the computer, but why wouldn’t they be? Generation Y, also known as the echo-boom generation, has grown up digital. Forget them buying notebooks for school, they’re buying laptops and zip disks instead. Times have changed and so have their focuses. Contrary to popular belief, this new generation sets their sights high to achieve as much as they can as soon as possible. Proof lies in the fact that many more high school graduates are continuing on with their education than ever before. In 1998, sixty-six percent of high school graduates were enrolled in college or trade school. This was a six percent increase from 1990 (“Raising” 1). More and more high school students are preparing themselves for college by taking Advance Placement tests. Scores on the Scholastic Assessment Testing have also gone up over the past decade, especially in math (“Raising” 1). With numbers exceeding 80 million Generation Y needs to be challenged and stimulated (Alch 1). This simply cannot be done in the conventional lecture hall. School systems are slowly changing their approach to include more interactive sessions. Instead of being grading solely on individual work, schools are starting to incorporate group projects into their curriculum. As many members of Generation Y enter the workforce, these skills will help them to become a part of the team (Alch 2). Although they aren’t joining the workforce as fast as their predecessors, they are receiving more schooling in hopes to come out ahead in this competitive work world.
On the job, many managers don’t know how to handle Generation Y. These workers won’t settle for factory jobs or manual labor. They’re not usually interested in long-term employment either. Most often, they see themselves almost as contract workers lending their expertise and service for a time. Don Tapscott, author of Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation has said, “This is a culture of interaction. Constantly surrounded by technology, today’s kids are accustomed to getting and receiving information in certain ways. This culture will very soon create the workplace and the society of tomorrow” (qtd. in Article 15 1). As previously mentioned, many of these young people are not interested in establishing rank and climbing the corporate ladder. They’re interested in demonstrating their skills and becoming a part of the decision making process. Many businesses that uphold a strong authority over their employees will have an especially hard time retaining workers. These workers are going to have to feel like their position is meaningful and valued. It is estimated that many Generation Y workers will switch careers as many as eight times throughout their lifetime (Alch 3).
Generation Y is definitely concerned with various issues. One issue that Generation Y cares strongly about is the environment. As a whole, clothes made with natural dyes and shampoos and cleansers made with herbs and plant extracts are likely to be better sellers than products traditionally