Gen Y: Schooling Isn't Enough, Educate Yourself

Last Updated Nov 10, 2009 9:03 AM EST

Real world job skills training for Gen YAmericans are going to university in greater numbers than ever before, but just because Gen Y is the most educated generation yet, doesn't mean they're the most prepared for the workforce. As Mark Twain famously said, "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education", and this distinction still stands: formal education and real-world training are two very different things. Ypulse, for one, perceives a failure of traditional education to give Gen Y a solid grounding in the basics:
Companies at once embrace Millennials as digital natives, and cry out about their lack of a traditional foundation. Recently I caught an article in The Guardian on a report... that found a "critical" skills gap in "writing, editing and interviewing" among aspiring media professionals.
Meanwhile, Australian site Anthill complains that even though Gen Y has school learning out the ears, many lack the skills needed for today's careers:
The top ten in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004. This means that the current education system is trying to prepare student for jobs that don't exist. On top of this, it is projected that Gen Ys will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38, of which only a very few will have relevance to what they studied....For Gen Ys to have any job security, we need to stop relying on the current education system to provide us with the preparation required to be successful in today's workforce. It's just not happening.
Either way you slice it -â€" too many digital skills, too few traditional ones; or too many traditional skills, too few real world ones -â€" there is at least a consensus that Gen Y isn't always getting the education they need. What's the solution? Ypulse leaves it to managers to "work with this generation to harness the potential of their intuitive digital skills and find a way to apply them effectively at work." Anthill has a more up by the bootstraps approach, "Gen Ys need to start taking more ownership over our professional development and not rely solely on a degree to get us where we want to go," and offers some basic suggestions:
  • Apply for internships with companies you believe you can learn from.
  • Join industry associations.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Read.
  • Go to seminars.
(Image of Mark Twain by sfjalar, CC 2.0)
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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.