The New Electronics PR newsletter caught my eye recently, in particular the IMechE’s survey claiming that almost 40% of respondents said they believed young apprentices, graduates and new recruits don’t have the work ethic needed to succeed in industry.
Dig beyond the ‘lazy kids’ headline, and it seems that what the survey was actually trying to say was much more focused on young people lacking practical skills in communication, design and mathematics, and the potential uncertainty this creates for UK manufacturing.
I’ve been in electronics PR since 1999 and for most of that career someone somewhere has been jumping on the skills issue bandwagon.
First it was all about how the engineers were all getting old and the industry needing new lifeblood. Then it was all about the kids not pursuing careers in engineering because they think it’s uncool. Then it moved on to the need for industry and university to work together to develop better courses for graduates. Then it was all about abandoning the debt of university and getting more companies to offer young people apprenticeships.
In recent times, with Raspberry Pi showing kids how inspirational engineering is, and with lots of universities and private companies looking like BFFs, things were looking rosy(er) but now it looks like the bandwagon is taking us around in another big circle.
So which side of the fence to do you sit on?
Do we really have a work ethic problem? Do today’s teenagers have a greater sense of entitlement than previous generations? Is everyone under the age of 25 useless and lazy? Or does this all just seem like a case of SSDD?
Weren’t my grandparents generation saying the same about the work ethic of my parents generation? Just as my parents were saying it about my generation and I’ll almost certainly be saying it about my two-year old son when he’s a teenager and early twenty-something.
Or are the youth of today just wired differently to previous generations and instead of complaining about them, society needs to find new ways to teach, incentivise and inspire them as part of a wider societal problem? With limited opportunities, house prices way out of line with incomes and the cost of living at an all time high do they have an excuse to not work hard?
Photo courtesy of: CJ Isherwood