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Jameela Jamil

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Y Do We Always Criticise Generation Y?

Posted: 25/11/2013 16:48

Lazy, social media obsessed and filled with a sense of entitlement. The all too familiar criticisms that levelled at Generation Yers today. Like millions of others born between the early 1980s until the early 2000s, I'm part of a group that everybody seems to have an opinion on. We're a group who can't focus on anything, a 'boomerang generation' who run back to their parents every time they face a problem and expect a glittering career to be handed to them on a plate.

Of course when it comes to describing people, any kind of stereotype is going to be flawed. Taylor Swift no more represents what every 22-year-old thinks about life and love than Generation Y describes what every person under 25 is like. And when it comes to describing how my generation approach work, well I know that for every one person I met who got an easy start to their working life, I've met hundreds more who had to try, try and try again until they got anywhere near the job they wanted.

The sadness is that for so many, even having the chance at that all important first job can feel impossible. New research from the IPPR shows that the unemployment rate among under-25s is now 3.74 times greater than the adult jobless rate. Although every sign seems to point to our economy recovering, too many of those under 25 are being left behind. It's why I became an Ambassador for LifeSkills, a programme created by Barclays, because I believe we have to do more to help this generation develop the skills to get into work, then access the experiences they need to get ahead.

The best thing about being involved in LifeSkills is the number of people I've met who prove just how wrong that stereotype of a lazy Generation Y-er is. They're determined to get ahead and pursue every single opportunity to get into the job they want - often beginning with work experience.

I know many businesses think work experience is just too much hassle and will cost them to offer. But, it isn't only a young person who will benefit from interacting with a business before starting work. People my age and younger have skills and an attitude that could help any business. Think about your employees of the future. How will you attract them to your business or sector? Or take social media. My generation is the one that grew up in a world of Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr and know instinctively how they can be both a force for good and bad. Having a so called 'digital native' in your business could help with any marketing strategy.

It's time we wake up to the potential of Generation Y. Let's change the narrative from being about a lost generation to one that could bring a new wave of innovation to the UK. And it starts with giving young people a chance at gaining the first-hand experience to prove just how wrong our critics are.

 

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