I just finished a broadcast for Georgia Public Radio, where I conversed with Bobbie Battista about orienting Millennials into the workforce. It was lively because we had two Millennials with us in the studio—Tina and Adrian. (They are both members of Generation iY, the younger half of the millennial population).
While the four of us possessed different perspectives on these new job candidates, we all agreed on one thing: graduates today, by and large, are unready for work (not to mention a full-blown career). And the numbers bear this out.
Ready or Not?
Bentley University, a business college in the Boston area, released the results of a large study, confirming that regardless of how confident the graduates feel, they lack the skills (mostly soft skills) needed to succeed in the workplace. According to the study, two thirds of business leaders agree that newly-hired recent college grads are not ready for a career and that their unpreparedness harms the productivity of the company. A full 74% believe this lack of readiness contributes to the economic problems facing our country today. Soft skills topped off the list of needs, starting with integrity, professionalism, positive attitude, communication and teamwork.
Despite this fact, recent grads enter the job market feeling both nervous and excited. They probably are a bit more confident than they should be—but its no wonder. They were great at soccer, piano, and getting good grades in class, and mom and dad made sure they got a trophy for any effort they made. So far, so good.
So Why Are They Unready?
I believe young professionals are ill prepared for a few reasons:
- Theory vs. Practice.
Many of these young adults have never had a job until after college. When I was growing up, I (and all my teen friends) had jobs during high school. It was the only way to have any money to get a car or take a fun trip. Today, the average teen does not work. In fact, according to The Center for Immigration Studies, less than half of teens today even get a summer job. So real work at a real job is mostly untested theory.
- Classroom Subjects.
Due to our drive toward academic improvement in America, students are pushed to master core subjects in school. Unfortunately, many of these subjects are difficult for students to translate into job skills. They may have a 4.0 GPA, but know nothing about sales, a P&L, or conflict resolution. Their IQ may be high, but their EQ is low. In school, success is 75% about IQ and 25% about EQ. On the job, it’s likely the opposite.
- A New Parenting Model.
I’ve said it a thousand times: parenting styles and priorities are different today. My dad encouraged me to get a job at twelve years old because he knew the value of work ethic and people skills that comes with work. Today, parents often feel they’re not providing well if their kid has to work. After all, that recital is coming up. Sadly, a schedule full of games, homework or practices hasn’t prepared them for the realities of work.
Getting Them Ready for a Career
I should remind you—I really believe in these kids. I love the thousands I meet every year on high school and college campuses. The truth is, they’re the product of a system we created, and it’s ill prepared them for work and life. For many, life’s been fairly easy, entertaining and fast… filled with friends, social media and activities.
When all this is brought to their attention, students usually get honest. According to the Bentley University study, 45% of Millennials admit that their own generation, in general, is not willing to “pay its dues” as prior generations did. The majority of them (56%) agree that they will need to conform to the workplace rather than the other way around. They’ve begun to recognize they’ll need to ramp up for a career.
So what can we do?
For years, we have pondered this challenge... and we finally believe we have a solution. This month, we launch a brand new Habitudes® resource called Habitudes for Career Ready Students. (For those who don’t know, Habitudes are images that form leadership habits and attitudes). It’s ideal for high school students who are preparing to enter college or their careers. It contains thirteen images, each a reminder of a timeless skill every employee needs. What’s more, these images (that spark engaging conversations and experiences) are based on twelve career ready standards supported by the U.S. Dept. of Education.
For more information on this new Habitudes book, click here.
They’re designed for discussion in advisement periods, social studies classes, health, classes, homeroom, after-school discussions, or chapels. We have proven that pictures really are worth a thousand words. The images spark conversations on problem-solving, innovation, critical thinking, personal brands, healthy communication, teamwork, leadership, big-picture thinking, and more.