Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Unemployed Y- Generation. What an Opportunity for the Agriculture Sector

Brian Gaynors column in the Herald, this weekend addressed youth unemployment. Brian was saying that baby boomers are staying in employment and not retiring as previous generations have in the past. The affect is these boomers are retaining jobs which makes it difficult for young employees to find employment. The column has caused quite a discussion, with 85 comments as I write. Many baby boomers seem to be taking exception to what Brian says. 

Whatever the cause, we can't ignore the high youth unemployment rate of 17%. That's for people aged 15-24. People aged 15-19 account for 27% of NZ total unemployment.

Long periods of unemployment in the early part of working life has been shown to have a profound affect on people and leave a "wage scar" that stays with them for the rest of their life.

When I look at these figures I think, what an opportunity for the agricultural sector! 

We read about 1200 applicants applying for 200 positions in a supermarket. Surely the agricultural sector can offer so much more than stacking shelves and swiping bar codes.

Professor Jacqueline Rowarth writes a column in "Primary Magazine". In the Autumn issue she addresses generation Y, those born between 1978 and 1994. (As I was born in 1978, I'm a little shocked to find that I'm considered gen y!) 

As a group, these people have been parented with much more attention and praise heaped on them. As their parents strived to give them a better life than they may have had. Y-generation have grown up in a time where prosperity as prevailed throughout their lives.

As a result they have a lot of confidence and have high expectations.

Jacqueline references an american study that showed,
Gen y list "work life balance" as the number one career goal. They believe they have a high work ethic but there appears to be a difference of 30 hours per week between what a baby boomer and a gen y consider to be an "acceptable working week". 
Read my previous posts here and here.

Although work life balance is rated higher than income, gen y still believe they are entitled to a high income. 

Jacqueline goes on,
"members of y-generation do not believe they need to choose between having a balanced lifestyle and professional success. They want and expect, to be able to have both. In fact they think they deserve it."

Those attitudes are likely to be completely opposite to what your average baby boomer farm owner believes to be true. Baby boomers were brought up by parents who lived through the great depreciation, and two world wars, in a time where progression was much slower. "Work hard and do your time" is what I imagine the baby boomer motto to be.

Y-generation could be explained as "have your cake and eat it too". 

Jacqueline continues, 
"they want responsibility (although they have little experience) and challenge (which implies effort and persistence). But they also want quick rewards and they want to be valued "overtly". 

Y-generation expect to be promoted quickly and they want to feel included in the decision making processes. They love collaboration and interaction and consensus. They love to share ideas. They have a hands on style of learning. They value relationships and purpose more than money. They want to be part of something bigger than them, they want a cause to be part of. They value time over money so they can have a life outside of work.

Y-gen think short term where as the parents of the baby boomers were very long term thinkers. Many would stay in the same job or company for their entire life and then die 2 years after retirement. Gen-y have no such desire to stay in the same job for  
5 years let alone an entire working life.

Y-generation make up 21% of the NZ population. If agriculture is to attract this new generation then it needs to adapt to them. It doesn't matter if gen-y thinking is"unrealistic" or "away with the fairies". This is the way they are.

So why are so many unemployed? Maybe its partly due to baby boomers staying in the work force longer, maybe its baby boomer employers who prefer older employees who they "understand" better. Maybe its because gen-y are their own worst enemies.

Either way it is actually the responsibility of the previous generation to enable the next to progress. The boomers and gen-x need to adapt to gen-y to allow them to progress and gen-y need to be shown (in a gen-y way) the reality of how the world works.

I believe its the y generation who will cement NZ as the leaders of high value agriculture. I think they will take the innovation and productivity gains of the previous generations and combine it with their creative, connected, collaborative attitudes and begin telling the NZ story in some different ways.

So we have 21% of the population who are in low paid jobs or are unemployed. What a wonderful opportunity to attract them into agriculture.

All we need to do is create a work environment where they can collaborate with each other all day and get all touchy feely, allow them to make all the decisions, while giving them plenty of public praise and encouragement. We simply need to ensure that they, feel like they are saving the planet,while developing their skills. We need to allow them the flexibility to have lots of time off farm, while working less hours and getting paid heaps.


No sweat!

No comments:

Post a Comment