Why Gen Y need to plan ahead

Gen Y: Career Strategy and Longevity

Career strategy and longevity
I spent the weekend socialising with a crowd of fabulous people all substantially younger than me. It’s graduation season and there was some exhilaration and some angst. Some results were better than expected, others disappointed. A few already had devised strategies, other’s hadn’t. One thing for sure is that any future career will not be defined by today’s degree results. There are many choices to be made and none are set in stone. They were looking for pearls of wisdom and I’m not sure my thoughts, one in particular, were what they wanted to hear. This generation needs to prepare, not just for a physically longer life, but a potentially more extended working career than its parents.

Here’s what Gen Y need to think about.

Longevity – Born in an era of a global gradual ascendancy of wealth, this generation has for many years been protected from their futures by their affluent “boomer” parents. It is only during the recent recession that their bubbles have started to burst. It struck me that career strategy for this generation will consciously need to start factoring extended longevity into the mix, more so than mine ever did. Not only will Gen Y outstrip their parents in life expectancy, predicted to be a minimum aged 80 on average, with typical projections of 87 for a man and 88 for a woman, many can expect to live longer.

Not unsurprisingly, clutching a graduation diploma, the last thought on anyone’s mind is a picture of themselves with false teeth, thin hair, liver spots and a walker.

Building a career that facilitates a longer working life , or at least into the late 60’s or early 70’s. Education will no longer stop at graduation and personal development and the acquisition of new skills will be ongoing. Flexibility and multi-skills will be key. On the plus side, the drive to get on a corporate ladder will be reduced, but on going commitment to personal development will be vital.

A need to save – Unless there is a sizeable inheritance in their futures, as pension plans both state and company reduce, Gen Y will need to be prepared to save an increased significant proportion of income throughout during a career. The Chinese save approximately 40% of their income. With high unemployment in this demographic and higher student loan payments, many young people will be saddled with debts into their mid 30s.

 Opt for a simpler, low-cost life. As part of one of today’s largest consumer groups many are used to having it all, now. But on top of that, every day life requires more gadgets than ever before ( mobile phones, lap tops, internet accessibility and more) which eats into their pay cheques and reduces an ability to save. This is in stark contrast to my own graduation where apart from my books, all I possessed on leaving university, was a kettle and a few cups.

Protect their health – with obesity rates and associated diseases spiralling, this generation will have to consciously protect its health, perhaps more so than any other, with such a strong need to be economically active longer. Another interesting spin-off might be in our knowledge based economies, more sedentary jobs could become reserved for older demographics who are no longer physically able to carry out certain functions.

With a declining birthrate and fewer younger people supporting an aging population, will jobs requiring physical stamina start becoming economically more signficant and pay prime rates? Could we envision a situation where a young builder will be considered as, or even more valuable than an aging banker? Now that would be fun!

What do you think? What career advice would you give today’s graduates?

5 thoughts on “Why Gen Y need to plan ahead

  1. Wendy Mason

    Hi Dorothy, I regard this as a terribly important post. I hope that some how we can influence them to plan for the long future ahead. But I think back to my own youth and how far away 30 seemed. There were years and years left to think beyond! Now there are years and years that need to be planned for but immediately!

  2. Helen Antholis

    Dear Dorothy,

    This is a very important post. You make very interesting points. A “new adulthood” has been formed and my daughter, Diana, started a site to help (www.enteradulthood.com). For career advice, I’d have them read her e-book “Conquer Your Career.” It addresses career issues with 100 strategies (25 for finding the right career; 25 for presenting the best image; 25 for finding work; and 25 for managing a career over time.)

    I’m finding that Millenials are taking a longer view than we did back then. They are taking an active role in shaping their future and are realizing it’s not going to be as easy as it seemed to be for their parents. Their future will be different. But, they have greater access and more available resources than we had at their age. That alone will make a huge difference in their success.

  3. Rod Leefe

    I like your thinking. I can see how working patterns, attitudes and values will change. And how skills and knowledge, trades and businesses will become obsolete more quickly while at the same time people will need to work for longer. How does this have an impact on organisations, which generally benefit from having a core of long-term people and consistency in management and leadership? Will business leaders today become obsolete? Or are there some skills which will not become obsolete anywhere near as quickly as others?


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