Nov 24, 2008

Thatcher's Innovators

Generation Y is often perceived as arrogant and self-centred, traits not well received in business. The first of ‘Thatcher’s Children’[1] were born just as Margaret Thatcher’s government came into power in 1979. During this Conservative reign, educational and social reforms were introduced, which directly affected the lives of Generation Y.

One such reform was the 1989 Children Act, which focused on the child’s relationship with the government. For the first time in British history the law recognised the child as an independent individual with rights and choices, whose voice would be heard above that of the state
[2]. For example, if a social worker was considering removing the child from its parents, the outcome would depend on the wishes of the child, whose opinion was given more weight than that of the social worker.

Another significant policy was the Education Reform or ‘Baker’ Act of 1988, which again aimed to empower the ‘consumers’ of education – the children.

These reforms encouraged children to believe that they were important members of society, whose opinions were to be taken seriously by authority; parents, teachers, and employers alike.
This mindset is arguably connected to Generation Y’s entrepreneurial spirit
[4], a fiercely independent mindset, where they believe that their individual ideas can change society. And why not? Einstein discovered E=MC2 when he was 26[5], Frank Whittle invented the jet engine when he was 21[6]. If employers listen to Generation Y – the first generation to be recognised by the law as relevant individuals of society – they have the potential to develop innovations which will reap enormous rewards for business.

[1] Pilcher, J. & Wagg, S. (1996). Thatcher’s Children? Falmer Press, p1.
[2] Winter, K. & Connolly, ‘Keeping it the Family’: Thatcherism & the Children Act 1989, in Pilcher, J. & Wagg, S. (1996). Thatcher’s Children? Falmer Press, Pp29-42
[3] Wagg, S. Politics, Childhood and the New Education Market, in Pilcher, J. & Wagg, S. (1996). Thatcher’s Children? Falmer Press, pp8-28

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