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June 7, 2012 / mike54martin

Congratulations… and Good Luck

I have been very fortunate in my working career. I have never been without work for more than a few months at a time and for most of my life I have actually been doing what I like for a living. I realize that makes me probably part of another 1%, those who like getting up and going to work in the morning versus the 99% who look forward to the weekends instead. It also makes me grateful for having had such great opportunities but it also makes me wonder what will happen to our sons and daughters and their children in the next generation of work.

They do have some clear advantages over my generation. First of all they are likely smarter and better educated. And they are certainly more technologically advanced. I am old, old school when it comes to computers. I still remember the days before personal computers when the “main frame” was in a massive room with banks of cooling fans and reams of printout paper that looked like it would choke the life out of the whole apparatus. Today they have no fear of technology and in fact believe that it is already their friend.

And time eventually will be on their side as old codgers like me and the rest of the baby boom generation finally gets the hell out of the workplace and makes some room for them. But they will patience because too many of us are likely going to working way past the suggested retirement age of 65, 67 or whatever it might be in the future. Some will work because they still like to and because they can but even more, especially women, will work in their senior years because they have to.

This means that in addition to everything else the younger generations will need a lot of patience, not usually a quality that is in great supply in our youth. They will also need luck in continuing to find placements and opportunities to learn and master their craft. And they will need to lower their expectations if they are going to have any sense of peace of mind during their early years. I saw a study a while ago that asked young people how much they thought they would make in their first few years after college or university. The answer was that they hoped to be in the $45k to $50k range which is not far off the mark. But when you asked them how much they thought they’d be making five years later these numbers soared to between $75k and $80k. As a wise person once said “not goin to happen.”

But the biggest challenge of all will be actually finding a job or career that has any kind of security, both in terms of tenure and compensation. And surviving through lean times with much less of a social safety net. Or having to move not just to other cities or provinces but other countries or continents. I wish them well as they head out with their cap and gown and youthful enthusiasm. I hope that they will be successful. My downsized living space is getting too small for another generation of adults to cohabitate with me.

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and workplace wellness consultant. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing With Difficult People.

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