Hooray for Millennials

What will how we work, modes of transport and our society look like in 5, 10 and 20 years from now? What will the future hold for the coming generations and will society make an evolutionary jump into a very different world from what we are living in now? A future the likes of my 89 year old father (the silent generation) who thinks climate change isn’t a thing and espouses some interesting theories to try and support his thinking, could not even imagine. He is part of the “silent generation”, born just before World War ll, he experienced, recession, hardship, the push to marry and have children, boom and bust, work all your life, he didn’t fully retire till he was over 80. While he can use a computer and a cellphone for what he needs to do, he has no understanding what the future will look like for his grandchildren (the millennials) and his and great grandchildren (alphas).

“Okay boomer!!”

Can you blame 25 year old New Zealand MP, Chloe Swarbrick for swiftly retorting, ‘okay boomer’, when being heckled by the conservatives during her climate crisis speech.

“Today I have learnt that responding succinctly and in perfect jest to somebody heckling you about *your age* as you speak about the impact of climate change on *your generation* with the literal title of their generation makes some people very mad,”. NZ MP, Chole Swarbrick.

There’s the generation chasm, beautifully articulated in two words. But maybe it’s more than just a generation chasm, maybe, at 25 years old she sees the damage being done to the planet and is driven by the need to keep the planet safe, that’s if the boomers don’t kill it first!

Full disclosure. I’m gen X, that relatively small generation sandwiched between the boomers and the millennials. As a Gen Xer, I admit, at times I’ve been frustrated with the millennials work ethic or seemingly lack there of. As I’ve watched so many of us be slaves to work, seen the increases of anxiety and depression in the workplace, we are so time famished, especially with the onset of COVID where we now live at work. With the ever increasing crazy pace of life we are expected to live, I feel like the millennials and the zoomers may just have a much healthier view of what, when and how to work.

Changing how we live

As you get older there’s perhaps less of a desire to work long hours and a need to become more time affluent rather than time famished. Or is it a cultural thing and the values some societies place on work? Japan has some of the longest work hours requirements in the world yet, yet Japan is not high on the productivity scale among G-7 nations. North America holds steadfastly to the 5 day, 40 hour a week work culture with low vacation allowance when compared with some of it’s western counterparts. Germany, France and Denmark all work less than 1,500 hours a year which averages out at 28 hours per week with these countries maintaining high productivity levels.

Much is being written about the impact of automation on the future of jobs with estimates close to 50% of today’s jobs, will cease to exist by 2040. Other sources state that 10% of the US workforce could be fully automated, now!

The the future of automation is real but some countries and sectors of society remain blinkered to automation and that it is here and here to stay. Jobs currently done by humans could be fully automated in the future and potentially be life changing that is not all bad.

“Looking ahead, new technologies can give people greater freedom to decide where, when and how they work, which can improve work-life balance and create new opportunities for previously underrepresented groups to participate in the labour market. Tedious and dangerous tasks can be automated, health and safety can be improved, and productivity boosted”.

Demand for highly skilled people with social, emotional and advanced cognitive skill is already increasing with jobs requiring only high schools training starting decline. Value is now being placed on creativity with many jobs requiring design skills, be it user, human, service or system design, this sector is booming. As those of us who remember a time without the internet, cell-phones, computers, fancy tv’s with over 100 channels and social media, will it be a future that will evolve as cumulative, inherited change within the population or will it by pain and bloodshed?

What I am hopeful about is that future generations, the millennials and the zoomers, the first to grow up in the age of the internet who are considered, digital natives, will think nothing of automating more in the future. Already they value time affluence and want to enjoy life rather than previous generations, like my 89 year old father, who have lived to work. Will this evolution be free from pain, I don’t think so. Some would say we are already feeling that pain.

While millennials and zoomers may not end up as wealthy as their boomer counterparts, the research tells us they will likely be much happier and less likely to be slaves to their work. I hope that millennials and their younger counterparts the zoomers will embrace and bring about a different work ethic, take charge of the planet and bring forth a much cleaner environment. It’s a heavy burden for them to carry but the alternative is something much less appealing and much more dystopian.

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Debra-Kiwi in Toronto

Debra-Kiwi in Toronto

Cancer overcomer, I refuse to say survivor. Kiwi import to Canada, Gen X. Plenty of opinions, they are all my own.