Nov 8, 2008

Temp Generation

One of the recurring complaints we hear about Generation Y revolves around the issue of ‘job-hopping’ as we have said elsewhere on this blog (“Gen Y playing leap-frog”). The Generation Y population seems to find it tough stay in one place for any length of time and it is giving employers a headache, putting a strain on both finances and morale. “It would be really helpful, especially in our line of work [relationship management]... if they could stay for at least five years” says one Investment Bank relationship director.

According to the RBS/ NatWest Student Living Index, the number of university students that also take on part-time employment is up at 42%, of all those in Higher Education. This is a sharp rise over the last few years, where previously there was a downward trend, and has gone up to as many as 750,000 in the UK per annum.[1] Student work also revolves around seasonal contracts (Christmas, Easter, Summer holidays), meaning that the concept of full-time work on a long-term basis may be quite an alien concept to most graduates, when they leave university – they’re not used to it.

This increase in contract work is supported by the expansion of the temporary work industry, which has grown five times more than national employment since 1990,[2] which correlates with the unprecedented numbers of redundancies during the 1990s (also well documented in previous blogs). From a commercial perspective, these two events suggest that many businesses believe it to be cost effective to hire some employees on a temporary basis. From a cultural perspective, however, the diminished idea of a ‘job for life’, plus the increasing availability of temporary work does not encourage a mindset of working for a corporate firm on a long-term basis.

This suggests that Generation Y graduates, rather than being lazy or disloyal, are merely working as they always have, on a short-term basis.

All of this supports the kinds of client requests that we see, who are asking us to build longevity into mindset and career paths of Generation Y inside their own businesses.


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