The Kids Are Probably Allright
I graduated from college in 1991 at the height of the last job loss fun and games. I distinctly recall that, in my graduting class of 34 Electrical Engineers, two of us had jobs the day we walked. I’d been interning for my company (and 20+ years later I’m still here, we’ll get to that), and they offered me a full-time job. I was, let’s say, middle of my class. I wasn’t the brightest when it came to grades or studiousness, but I knew how to work hard. The other guy with a job? Near the bottom of the class. He had nuclear experience from the Navy, and every power company with a hint of a nuclear plant wanted him. Oddly enough, he’s still in the power industry.
Flash forward a couple decades. My nephew (eventually) got out of school with his architecture degree and a strong training in the new LEAD certification that everyone wants. He got a job in Florida at a firm that promptly started losing business in the latest jobs flap. He was one of the last to go, even though he’d been one of the last hired and had the least “practical” experience. But that LEAD work, nobody knew how to do that… After the firm shut down, he took some construction jobs and eventually landed a solid job in the Northeast that I don’t think he’ll ever leave.
Yes, I know these are anecdotes. But I want to make a point, and it’s the one that everyone else seems to be thinking these days. Here’s a typical scenario that Jazz Shaw highlights, based on this LA Times article.
There seem to be two primary factors at play here, one immediate and obvious, the other more long term and under the covers. For the immediate future, as long as the economy continues to stagnate, young people are not only facing a job market with fewer openings in general, but they are – more so than ever before – competing with older, more experienced workers with extensive resumes. And these older pros are frequently desperate for work and willing to take a job for less money than they ever would before, rather than holding out for higher paying senior positions.
This puts the squeeze on those just entering the work force unless they are coming out of school with some breaking new technology specialization. But even if the economy gets back to something approaching normal ten years down the road, it may be too late for today’s kids.
Look. Whining kids. Oh, wait, they all seem to be whining these days. I get that these times are really tough. I also hire people. When I see kid out there who didn’t wait for life to come at him or her, and instead did something… well, I notice that. Check out the guy I hired last year. He was having trouble getting through school and he (get this) didn’t want to be burdened by student loans for the rest of his life. So he got his engineering degree over nearly eight years, and he spent the day delivering tractors to pay for classes as he could. I’m sure times were tough, but not for someone as resiliant as he was.
My point is that even as conservatives, we’re coddling our youth. I got where I was by working hard and not waiting for someone to give me what I “really deserved.” So did my nephew. So did my favorite new hire. If the youth of this nation understood the work ethic that their grandparents had, then maybe they wouldn’t be so worried about the buck they might or might not make.
Oh, and get off my lawn!