New research shows Millennials are less interested in financial security and more concerned with job fulfilment
Employment prospects are looking up for this year’s university-leavers, with graduate recruitment on the rise and starting salaries higher than the UK average. However, research shows that for the youngest generation entering the workplace, financial security is not what matters most.
As the first generation to grow up in a society of eco-consciousness, Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 2000, are less interested in financial gain than their parents, and more concerned with job fulfilment.
“Generation Y views a job not just as a means to pay the rent, rather a route to exploring their passions, hobbies and philosophies,” says Arthur Kay, a recent graduate who set up the social business Bio-bean – an enterprise that collects waste coffee grounds and turns them into fuels. “The y-generation has a holistic outlook on the world, and social enterprises help enable this.”
Those born after 1980 have also grown up with the internet, and so Generation Y are the first working-age generation to be considered “digitally native”. Alex Swallow, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition, says that growing up with the internet has given Generation Y a better insight into society’s core problems.
“We have had the chance to truly appreciate the link between the local and the global. At the global level, we are more likely to have travelled abroad, to have friends from other countries, or simply to have grown up with the internet for a core part of our lives. At the local level, we are more likely to have moved away from our communities. The social enterprise and charity sectors, I think, benefit from having people like this who have an understanding of the larger picture.’
Research shows Generation Y are also more likely to be entrepreneurs. However, as a negative, they have been criticised for having unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved in the workplace.
“I was always told to follow what I believed in,” says Hannah Catmur, the founder and designer of Get Out! Explorers – a social enterprise that aims to inspire children to play more outdoors.
“When I left university, there was a huge competition for jobs and I needed to differentiate myself in order to impress. There was nothing to lose and much support for social enterprise … I believe Generation Y have the right skills for social business – they want to change the world and social entrepreneurship offers an excellent way to do so.”
Hannah isn’t the only graduate turning to social enterprise for a more fulfilling career. Bethan Vincent, who graduated last year, has founded an ethically-sourced coffee shop called Vincent’s Coffee. She sees social enterprises as a solution to the challenging job market.
“I believe facing an environment with reduced economic opportunities has provided our generation with the drive to seek positive change through business,” she says. “Older generations have gained greatly from the pursuit of wealth and this has left many young people wondering if there is more to life than getting rich quick.”
Others believe social enterprise offers graduates a sustainable alternative to charitable giving.
“The traditional model of doing social and charitable good when you have reached a certain level of economic wealth, namely later in life, is no longer viable,” says Claritta Peters, a student involved with social enterprise at SOAS Ventures. “Young people want to simultaneously reach levels of financial wellbeing as well as achieving social good.”
But with government experts and global corporations all trying to work towards a more sustainable future – is a generation of young social entrepreneurs really the answer to the world’s core social and economic problems?
Liam Black, co-founder of Wavelength and a social entrepreneur with more than 20 years’ experience in the sector, thinks not. “Young people make ‘schoolboy errors’ whereas older people don’t,” he says. “There are a variety of ways to tackle social and environmental issues without having thousands of young people struggling and stuttering through start-ups.”
This is backed by research showing that the older someone is when they start a business, the more likely they are to succeed. If Generation Y need to believe that work has a social or environmental purpose, there are a variety of other options, says Black. “A few of these are: CSR departments of national corporations, public sector business, non-profits – starting up a social enterprise is just one of these, and it’s not appropriate for everyone.”
By prioritising job fulfilment over financial gain, Millennials are sure to shape the workplace in years to come. However, we will have to wait to see exactly how this generation changes workplace dynamics. Rhiannon Colvin, recent graduate and co-operative social entrepreneur, sums up her career expectations.
“It’s simple: work should allow us to generate an income, do what we love, and have a positive impact on the world.”
Source: The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/2014/feb/19/generation-y-millennials-job-seekers-money-financial-security-fulfilment
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