It is very easy – indeed seductive – to criticize young people (Gen Y and teens) for being lazy and rude. I’ve encountered exactly what you described in your June Salvo commentary. However, I’ve also come across it, both in the workplace and service establishments, with Gen X and Baby Boomers. I’m a 57-year-old Boomer, and we’re fooling ourselves if we think we have the monopoly on courtesy or possessing the “smarts.”
Yes, there is a generation of young people that is being wasted, the product of a self-serving society. We Boomer parents have to accept some of the responsibility, as does the education system, political leaders, business, organized labour and so forth. Indeed, this “generation” is divided, it seems, into the haves and the have-nots, not from an economic power perspective but rather from those who have either decided to empower themselves to contribute productively to society, and the other side which continues to drift aimlessly.
My wife and I raised four kids (three daughters and a son) to adulthood. Ranging from 23 to 32, our kids – though far from perfect – are all employed and contributing productively to Canadian society. We’re very proud of all four. We didn’t do anything magic as parents; in fact, a couple of our kids went through some very rough patches in their teens. At the time we just held our breaths and hoped for the best.
Because I do a lot of research and writing on human capital development, including intergeneration leadership, I’ll include myself in the company of the guilty who have made an industry of labeling each generation with certain characteristics. Looking at just Gen Y, there are so many different traits one observes that we, as older adults who should know better, need to understand and embrace the critical role that young will increasingly play in Canada’s economy.
Why do over 50 per cent of people in their twenties still live at home? Why are Canadian youth still scared of going to community college and learning a trade (an issue I worked on 30 years ago as a greenhorn federal economist)? Why are Canadian employers not building bridges across the four (soon to be five) generations in the workplace?
These are just a few of the policy questions that are screaming out to be answered.
I thoroughly enjoyed your Salvo column in this issue. I share your sense of hopelessness, contrasted by a sense of awe at the drive and accomplishments of some in this generation. As a father of a 23, 21 and an 18 year old, this generation is very much where I live at present. Best line of the article: “Curmudgeon isn’t a flattering shade for anyone.”’
In Stephen Kimber’s latest column, you complain about Harper changing E.I. yet you fail to mention the Liberals of the mid 90’s when they were even more robust in altering E.I. which cost them every seat in Cape Breton during the ‘97 election although they still managed to form a majority government at 38 per cent and again in ‘00 at also 38 per cent. I wonder if you complained then that a majority Liberal government at only 38 per cent should not have attacked the Maritimes, or is it just Harper who offends you? I do not know how one man can force normally rational people to drop all logical thought and write over-the-top articles like you just did.
It is too bad I have to remind you but all evil in the world did not start with Harper becoming P.M.! The real problem, if you think about Europe, is that we have Maritime governments which are spending far too much and have to borrow millions from the market each year. Also, these governments cannot function without huge money transfers from other parts of Canada. So instead of abusing Alberta and Ralph Klein, you might want to stick a little closer to home with your targets. For example, it was good of you to recite all the failed projects our provincial governments have funded in the past. You might start there to find some lessons for your readers. I would also recommend you read (if you haven’t already) Peter Moreira’s excellent book Backwater on Nova Scotia’s decline.
(Article: Ships will start here. Eventually) The website to register as a supplier or for employment with Irving Shipbuilding is www.irvingshipbuilding.com.
(Article: Brave young scientists face the world) Kaitlyn Stockley and Jared Trask are students at Holy Spirit High in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland.