Another Major Challenge to the Economy

There is another consequence of the relative affluence of the western world at large and the irrational notion that everybody should go to college even if they aren’t qualified or mature enough to go – our young people have inflated/unrealistic expectations of  entry level worklife and many simply don’t know how to work. That doesn’t mean that the aren’t educated, there are those who have attained junk degrees that are practically worthless in the economy at large – but what I mean is that even many students with relevant and worthwhile degrees simply have never had to experience what it is like to have a boss who expects tasks to get done on time and that work hours often take precedence over fun or other personal pursuits.

In my experience, it seems that this is a problem for entry level applicants that are age 25-27 and under because many in this group have only known school and have never really worked, not even at a part time job that had an established schedule. Many look at a college degree as the finish line with a great paying job as the big prize and upon graduation, they take a deep breath and are ready to coast.  It is a bit jarring when they realize that graduation is actually the starting line for a worklife that is a series of smaller prizes along the way – adding up to a rewarding career and life, sort of success on an installment plan.

These young people are:

  • Shocked at the hours that are expected, typically 40-45
  • Shocked that the work sometimes doesn’t stop until the job is done, even if it exceeds 40 hours a week
  • Shocked that the don’t get 4 weeks of vacation right out of the chute
  • Shocked that they are expected to show up on time and not leave until the end of their shift
  • Shocked that they immediately aren’t paid 6 figure salaries right out of college commensurate with what they think that they are worth – they are shocked that salaries for entry level positions, especially business or admin positions start in the $30,000 to $40,000 a year range and not $70-$80K.
  • They don’t understand that when a business hires an individual, the business is making an investment for a return, not providing guaranteed employment as a social welfare service – rarely is an entry level employee a positive net return right out of the box and  if the firm doesn’t see a positive return, they reevaluate that investment.
  • They are shocked at what they can afford (very little other than basic needs) on a $30-$40K a year salary.

Many companies spend a lot of time and expense sorting out these kids and then spending time and effort on actually teaching them how to work, instilling the minimum expectations as a member of a workforce. There are very few who actually share a similar experience to mine – my first two years of college, I worked 40 hours a week on night shift at a local manufacturing firm, the last two I became a contractor doing light construction, repair and remodel work.

The minute that I see a application from a young person who was either reared on a farm or held a job during college or high school, I know that they are likely to succeed. This isn’t an “iron rule” of course, but it seems a predictor of future success.

I have personal experience in this situation. I have three children. My oldest, a daughter, has always had a job – she worked part time during high school and every summer, she taught ice skating and coached ice skating teams in college, she has a very strong work ethic, graduated from law school and landed a job when over half of her graduating class didn’t. She knows how to work.

I also have two sons. One stayed out of school for two years and had a real job, lived on his own, paying his own bills and managing his own affairs, my youngest son had to do none of that and went directly to college out of high school. Both boys are in programs at Full Sail University in Orlando. For those unfamiliar with Full Sail, they are an institution that is focused on the various entertainment industries (TV production, music, graphic arts, digital design, gaming (don’t laugh, the gaming industry is a $300 billion a year industry), etc.) and they use a concept that they call Real World Education. By basing all of their degree programs around immersive, project-based curricula, they strive to give students experience with the tools and concepts they’ll be working with in the entertainment industry.

And when they say “project based curricula”, they aren’t lying. The students work on a compressed schedule where they can achieve a 4 year degree in 2 years by going to class and labs 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year and on top of that, they have projects to deliver on a schedule – you or your team delivers late, you suffer the consequences – just like in real life. My boys are working between 50-60 hours a week, including weekends, all-nighters and holidays under this program.

Guess which son is having difficulty with keeping up?

In the Scotsman this morning, a major UK car dealership network laments the same thing that I have seen in both the US and the UK:

Today’s youth not fit to be employed, says car firm Arnold Clark

MORE than 80 per cent of young Scots are “unsuitable for any employment”, according to one of the country’s biggest firms.

A culture of “wholly unrealistic expectations” towards the modern workplace – including shock at the hours they are expected to put in – lies behind the decline, the training arm of motoring giant Arnold Clark has told MSPs.

A major summit is to be staged by Holyrood’s finance committee tomorrow that will see politicians and businesses join forces to try to improve the “employability” of the emerging Scottish workforce.

A report submitted in advance by Arnold Clark sets out the company’s concerns, and their findings have been backed by other business organisations.

The company said the biggest difficulty it faced was apprentices failing to adjust to a full working week, having become used to studying 18 hours a week at school or even less at further education colleges.

Many college courses were branded “state-sponsored babysitting” by Arnold Clark, which said not enough training was geared towards the world of work.

“It is desperately sad and thoroughly disheartening to hear professional recruiters with 20-plus years’ experience of employing school-leavers describe young Scots as ‘unsuitable for any employment’,” the submission said. “Yet that was the case of 81 per cent of our applicants.”

The firm had 2,280 applications for apprenticeships in 2011 – but found that 1,850 were simply not fit for the workplace.

Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has a book coming out called The Higher Education Bubble that addresses the weaknesses of our higher education systems…

Talk Amongst Yourselves:

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