Career strategy and longevity
I spent the weekend socialising with a crowd of fabulous people all substantially younger than me. It’s graduation season and there was some exhilaration and some angst. Some results were better than expected, others disappointed. A few already had devised strategies, other’s hadn’t. One thing for sure is that any future career will not be defined by today’s degree results. There are many choices to be made and none are set in stone. They were looking for pearls of wisdom and I’m not sure my thoughts, one in particular, were what they wanted to hear. This generation needs to prepare, not just for a physically longer life, but a potentially more extended working career than its parents.
§ Longevity – Born in an era of a global gradual ascendancy of wealth, this generation has for many years been protected from their futures by their affluent “boomer” parents. It is only during the recent recession that their bubbles have started to burst. It struck me that career strategy for this generation will consciously need to start factoring extended longevity into the mix, more so than mine ever did. Not only will Gen Y outstrip their parents in life expectancy, predicted to be a minimum aged 80 on average, with typical projections of 87 for a man and 88 for a woman, many can expect to live longer.
Not unsurprisingly, clutching a graduation diploma, the last thought on anyone’s mind is a picture of themselves with false teeth, thin hair, liver spots and a walker.
§ Building a career that facilitates a longer working life , or at least into the late 60’s or early 70’s. Education will no longer stop at graduation and personal development and the acquisition of new skills will be ongoing. Flexibility and multi-skills will be key. On the plus side, the drive to get on a corporate ladder will be reduced, but on going commitment to personal development will be vital. Creating a portfolio of transferable skills will be the new mantra.
§. A need to save – Unless there is a sizeable inheritance in their futures, as pension plans both state and company reduce, Gen Y will need to be prepared to save an increased significant proportion of income throughout during a career. The Chinese save approximately 40% of their income. With high unemployment in this demographic and higher student loan payments, many young people will be saddled with debts into their mid 30s.
§. Opt for a simpler, low-cost life. As part of one of today’s largest consumer groups many are used to having it all, now. But on top of that, every day life requires more gadgets than ever before ( mobile phones, lap tops, internet accessibility and more) which eats into their pay cheques and reduces an ability to save. This is in stark contrast to my own graduation where apart from my books, all I possessed on leaving university, was a kettle and a few cups.
§ Protect their health – with obesity rates and associated diseases spiralling, this generation will have to consciously protect its health, perhaps more so than any other, with such a strong need to be economically active longer. Another interesting spin-off might be in our knowledge based economies, more sedentary jobs could become reserved for older demographics who are no longer physically able to carry out certain functions.
With a declining birthrate and fewer younger people supporting an aging population, will jobs requiring physical stamina start becoming economically more signficant and pay prime rates? Could we envision a situation where a young builder will be considered as, or even more valuable than an aging banker? Now that would be fun!
What do you think? What career advice would you give the class of 2011?