In 2016, PwC released the most comprehensive generational study of its kind: “PwC’s NextGen: A global generational study”. The study spanned 18 territories and hundreds of thousands of employees, asking the basic question of “what makes a Millennial employee different?”.
The question on everyone’s mind since the turn of the century is sparked entirely by the fact that besides the Baby Boomers generation, Millennials are the largest generation in Canada. They also take up a whopping 37% of our labour force in Canada, making them the largest stakeholders in all of the country.
So with Baby Boomers beginning to phase out of the work force, our attention must shift towards the future managers and directors of our businesses. But why is this important for you? Why should your business care?
Here are just a few reasons why engaging with youth will benefit your company:
Bridging the Skills Gap
There is no denying in Canada that we are facing one of the most significant skills gaps in all of history. Over 30% of employers indicated in 2012 that they faced a major skills shortage across all fields, according to the 2012 report by CIBC. On top of that, since 2010, these numbers have been growing exponentially year to year and there’s no way to avoid the affects across the country if something isn’t done fast.
However, there’s a weird contradiction at place. Millennials are the most educated generation in Canadian history, with more university graduates than ever before. On top of that, youth unemployment and underemployment in Canada sits around 14%, signifying it would seem that there would be a large pool of youth to pick from.
What’s happening is becoming more and more dire, that if action isn’t taken we could see the skills gap widen, youth unemployment rise, and even potentially see the number of university graduates decrease as the value continues to fall short of outweighing the cost of tuition.
One solution? Easy, we just need to talk. Although our fastest growing markets in Canada are housed in such industries and IT and agriculture, only 4.7% of Canadians have degrees in these areas. What we need to do is start putting the right people in the right room. We need to bring educators, employers, and youth together to create dialogue around what together we need to do to accelerate Canadian impact.
As David Shar from the Ivey Business School said during the AIESEC Canada Youth to Business Breakfast in 2015 could never be more applicable:
“The top challenge for educators… is to provide them a learning experience that will serve them well when they go out there and find their first job, but also will prepare them for lifelong learning.”
We need to continue to create spaces for our three biggest stakeholders in Canada to build a future for our citizens, one conversation at a time. In AIESEC we commit to creating dialogue between business, youth, and educators for years to come.
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Breeding the Leaders of Tomorrow
It’s hard to realize sometimes that we can’t be in our roles forever. Beyond that, as the Baby Boomer generation grows older, it’s important to come to terms with the fact that soon Millennials and the generations after them will be leading the workforce in our country.
What we need to ensure is that our businesses get the best chance they can by equipping the leaders of tomorrow with the attitudes, qualities, and skills to be better than we were today.
CPA Canada defines strong business leaders in a few concrete things: someone with the courage to have a simple vision, that understands that there are no shortcuts to execution, that knows how to nurture and manage great teams, and that can be personable and exude a strong presence.
If we think about our education system today, there aren’t a lot of opportunities in Canada to develop these kinds of soft skills. It’s even argued that the development of soft skills are becoming even more crucial, perhaps outweighing hard skills, as businesses in Canada become more global and entrepreneurial in the years to come.
So how can we begin to bridge this disconnect?
In AIESEC, we believe that leadership is built when youth are given challenging environments and spaces to reflect. In a fast-paced world, there isn’t a lot of time to really process what skills and learnings you gained from your experiences, no matter where they are.
But take it from someone who’s done it, Gillian Jose-Riz who went on an AIESEC internship to Argentina:
“Perhaps the biggest realization I’ve had this year is how at work, many people continue to think that the realization of goals are separate from employees’ development. Sometimes, they are separate. But if a student develops and increases their performance, then the deliverables as a teacher are accomplished. Great managers and leaders, like great teachers, are able to unite the two things.”
Great leaders and managers are developed with their feet to the fire, with the stakes high and the responsibilities solely their own. In AIESEC, we commit to developing the leaders of tomorrow, today.
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Being at the Forefront of Social Responsibility
Most people know that the Millennial generation has become some of the most vocal and passionate about social responsibility. From the women empowerment to climate action, Millennials have been at the forefront of the pressure on society to reflect inwards.
Moreover, Millennials have transformed the retail marketplace through their demand for change. It’s said that 70% of Gen Y consumers are more likely to buy from companies or brands that are active in issues they care about.
Let’s take THINX, an underwear company, as an example. THINX was founded just a few years ago by a budding entrepreneur with the simple idea that she wanted a useful product that could be both profitable and useful to women everywhere. By creating a for-profit model that still gave back to women in Africa, THINX quickly became an internet sensation and their profits followed. By supporting a cause that people could believe in, they helped their business too.
The point is that more and more the Millennial generation is shaping the way they consume based on their personal and social views.
In 2015 the United Nations took a stand with all the member states to create a vision for 2030. They committed to creating 17 Goals that if achieved would lead to a world at peace. The Sustainable Development Goals, from climate action to life below water to gender equality, represent a worldwide commitment to leaving our world in 2030 better off than today.
In AIESEC, we took a stance and decided to commit to the future of our world and the small actions we could take every day to achieve that. Today, we send over 700 students every year on our Global Volunteer projects that each work to tackle one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Take it from Elsa Barb who went on a Global Volunteer internship to Indonesia where she learned how she can impact the world through small actions:
“My whole life I always wanted to be a part of something more, something bigger. Something that contributed to changing the world. And I truly believe that Quality Education is the key to a better world. If our leaders are committing to this by 2030, then well, so am I.”
If the world is committing to taking on the Goals for a better world, then so should Canada. In AIESEC, we commit to creating more experiences ever year for Canadians to impact the SDGs on internships around the world.
Be a Part of the Change And Donate Today!
Overall, the reason why you should engage youth is pretty simple: because you can’t do business without them. Whether it’s because you need the skills gap to start working in your favour or you want to take action on creating the leaders that will replace you in generations to come or you just simply want to be a part of the change towards a peaceful 2030, it’s all about taking action today.
To find out more about our opportunities to work with AIESEC, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or Visit us at http://aiesec.ca/companies