COMMENTARY | Like I tell many of my classes, we’ve got good news and we’ve got bad news. The good news, according to the Wall Street Journal, is that more jobs than expected were added to the U.S. economy in April and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent. The bad news, according to NBC, is that employers are not thrilled with Millenial hires. Despite being the most highly-educated generation of job-seekers ever, Millenials are often deemed unready for the expectations of the workplace, researchers have found.
The conflicting views, cultures, and styles of Millenial job applicants and Baby Boomer bosses will become more of an issue as the U.S. economy continues to improve and more Millenials begin moving into “good” jobs requiring college degrees. During the depths of the Great Recession Millenials had to quickly adapt to the desires of Baby Boomer supervisors, knowing that employers had no hesitation to fire those who didn’t “fit the mold.” Now that the economy is better it may not be so easy to simply drop Millenial hires on a whim. Will the job market culture clash heat up in 2014 as hiring picks up, pitting the new generation against the old in ways not seen before?
As a teacher I often warn my high school seniors, many of whom are deeply rooted in the malaise of senioritis, that the real world is not nearly as forgiving as the K-12 classroom. There are no redos, retakes, tutorial sessions, appeals, or public servants whom Mom and Dad can bully. If you can’t hack it, you’re cut. A small business doesn’t have to report its hiring and firing statistics to Washington to appeal for federal dollars. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” do not apply to private-sector employers.
Maybe a big problem is not that we’re not teaching our students well, but rather that we have lost our will and ability to discipline them and instill a work ethic.
Many of my students are extremely smart, but not all of them perform. They know they do not have to. With the end of the school year coming in less than four weeks, far too many of my seniors know how the game is played: I will cave, pad grades, accept laughably inept late work, excuse assignments, and do what it takes to get my passing rate to an acceptable level. The teens aren’t dumb – they’re lazy. And we have allowed them to be.
Instead of being so worried with how well our teens’ test scores compare to those of students in other industrialized nations, perhaps we should be worried about whether or not our teens are on track to become acceptable employees. How can America remain competitive if we can’t convince the Boomer and Gen-Xer bosses to accept Millenial new hires?