Free Puppy Anyone? Taking Care of the Pack Young

PuppiesIt’s that time of year again when kids are starting to fill out college applications, deciding if they don’t want college but would rather be a dental hygienist or fire fighter instead, or just plain freaking out that in a few short months their high school career will be over.  I’ve got one of those at home right now and it ain’t pretty.

What do these kids really have to look forward to anyway, career-wise?  With unemployment ravaging the workforce, organizational changes drying up the already few and far between entry-level opportunities, major competition for jobs driving highly experienced people to do desperate things and college tuition rates soaring, just what is out there for new grads?

Not much says an article in the October 19th issue of BusinessWeek.  Author Peter Coy points out that newly minted high school, college and MBA grads are bright, eager – and unwanted.  The U.S. unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds is around 18% and with the lack of jobs for those kids, their lifetime income potential is plummeting.  It seems like we are creating our own death spiral.

You’d think that with all this cheap labor out there companies would be snapping young people up by the dozen and getting rid of the more expensive employees.  Tain’t so.  We all know nobody’s doing anything in light of the unstable economy. But we weren’t doing a good job of bringing in the new kids to begin with anyway.

Part of what is scary about this too, is that so many of these young people are well-educated, enthusiastic and raring to go.  They’re the ones who are going to be funding Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare in the years to come.  We’re all living longer and many of us lost a ton of retirement money over the past several years due to the bouncing stock market.  So, that means that the older generations are going to have to keep working– which leaves even less for the new kids on the block, never mind our societal coffers.  And let’s not start on the loss of creativity and diversity in organizations.

Some people think the government should intervene before things get worse by subsidizing education, cutting minimum wage, offering more job training, or instituting apprenticeship programs for skilled blue-collar jobs.  Good ideas all, but require some more thinking on my part before I profess an opinion one way or another.

What I will opine though, is that we need to take care of our “pack.”  All organizations should be hiring or interning young people to keep the talent pipeline viable in spite of the wishy-washy economy.

Yea, I know these are great words…reality of business life…who’s going to train them…where do we put them…blah, blah, blah.

If we only focus on short-term and not look toward the horizon, how many organizations are going to miss the sunset and not see the dawn?

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