Look out, Millennials – here comes Generation Z (Boomers all over again?)

We usually portray the “war of the generations” as Boomers vs. Millennials: the greedy, selfish, aggressive “old people” against the mellow, ironic, ineffective, unambitious “young people.” But now the Millennials may be about to get squeezed from the other side: the next generation in line, dubbed Generation Z, is coming on…and coming on strong. And it’s definitely not going to be more of the same.

Gen Z (those under the age of 19) outnumbers both the Boomers and the Millennials, and according to a report by marketing agency Sparks & Honey, they’re very different than the Millennials: more ambitious, more entrepreneurial, more realistic. Evidently they’ve seen how the Millennials are floundering, and don’t want it to happen to them.

Here’s a graphic summing up the differences between the two generations.



Mature? Future focused? Realists? Want to work for success? They look suspiciously like Boomers to me.

To find out more, read this excellent summary by Leonid Bershidsky on Bloomberg View. It also contains a link to the original presentation.





Watch me on The Zoomer, with Conrad Black and Denise Donlon, tonight at 9 on Vision TV

I’m pleased to be back on the panel again, and the topic is: the workplace. We had a lively discussion, and you’ll recognize many of the issues, from following this blog. Watch The Zoomer tonight (Monday, January 20) on Vision TV, at 9.00 p.m.

If you want more information on the program, visit the web site here. You can also watch my two previous appearances on the show, on October 15 when we discussed “age rage” and the apparent “war of the generations,” and on November 18 when we talked about the state of Zoomers – pensions, aging, and a whole lot more.

I hope you’ll be watching tonight — and let me know your reaction!

There are more university grads working in retail than there are… You’ll be shocked at the answer.

Everyone knows the college degree has lost its magic. Too many grads wind up with decades of debt and no guarantee of a good job. But just how bad is it? In a compelling article in the Wall Street Journal, Richard Vedder reveals “explosive growth” in the number of university grads stuck in “relatively unskilled jobs.”

According to his research, there are more university grads working in retail than there are soldiers in the US Army, and more janitors with bachelor’s degrees than chemists. “In 1970, less than 1% of taxi drivers had college degrees,” he reports. “Four decades later, more than 15% do.”

Not surprisingly, this has led to a dramatic narrowing of the gap in earnings between college grads and high school grads.  “The benefits of a degree are declining while  costs rise.” Since 2006, the article reports, the gap between what the median college grad earned compared to the median high-school grad dropped – by $1,387 for men over 25 working full-time, and by $1,496 for women.

If you narrow the range to younger workers, and look at only ages 25-34, the decline is even worse. The men’s differential fell by 11%%, from $20,623 to $18,303, while the women’s differential crashed by almost 20%, from $18,525 to $14,868.

Meanwhile – surprise, surprise – during that same 2206-2012 period, the cost of a degree jumped by 16.5%  (in constant 2012 dollars). And this at the same time as the recession was flattening household incomes – and thus, the ability to pay.

The article sums up the gloomy picture:In 1970, when 11% of adult Americans had bachelor’s degrees or more, degree holders were viewed as the nation’s best and brightest. Today, with over 30% with degrees, a significant portion of college graduates are similar to the average American—not demonstrably smarter or more disciplined. Declining academic standards and grade inflation add to employers’ perceptions that college degrees say little about job readiness.

What’s to be done?

The universities will change. Not that they want to (“…they are often strangled by tenure rules, spoiled by subsidies from government and rich alumni”), but they will be forced to. Declining enrollments will produce financial strain, and painful adjustments will be necessary.


First, colleges will have to constrain costs. Traditional residential college education will not die because the collegiate years are fun and offer an easy transition from adolescence to adulthood. But institutions must take a haircut. Excessive spending on administrative staffs, professorial tenure, and other expensive accouterments must be put on the chopping block.

Second, colleges must bow to new benchmarks assessing their worth. With the advent of electronic learning—including low-cost computer courses and online courses that can reach thousands of students around the world—there is more market competition than ever. New tests are being devised to assure employers that individual students are vocationally prepared, helping recruiters discern which institutions deliver superior academic training. Purdue University, for example, has joined with the Gallup Organization to create an index to survey alumni, providing universities and employers with detailed information, including earnings data.

“Creative destruction” may finally be coming to higher education. “The cleansing would be good for a high education system still tied to its medieval origins – and for the students it’s robbing.”

You can read the entire article here. It’s well worth your time.


Forget Pajama Boy and Rolling Stone; here’s what a huge number of Millennials are actually interested in

In contrast to the unseriousness that Pajama Boy and Jessse Myerson have recently attached to Millennials, there’s encouraging evidence that the Millennials themselves have no trouble getting  real, thank you very much.

A recent Canadian survey shows that Millennials are responding to the hardships of the job market by becoming – or planning to become – entrepreneurs.

The survey, conducted by Angus Reid for Intuit in September 2013, revealed that Millennials are twice as likely to start a business in the next 12 months as Canadians as a whole.

Some highlights:

  • 8% of Canadians say they want to start up a business in the  coming year, but Millennials, the number is 16%
  • Millennials like the opportunity to be their own boss. They’re almost five times more likely to be motivated by that factor (78%) as by the money itself (16%)
  • They’re not pie in the sky about money, though. They rated “poor understanding of finance” as the top reason for entrepreneurial failure.

The findings are consistent with US data. A survey by the Ewing & Marion Kauffman Foundation, back in 2011, found that more than half of Millennials wanted to start a business.

The Millennials have their critics; I myself have certainly ready to poke fun at some of their style points (especially when I think they get in the way of serious problem-solving). But they are responding, as a generation, to their circumstances and the cards they’ve been dealt, and we all may wind up being very happy with the eventual results.