Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

Neither are they entitled, lazy, stupid, selfish, addicted to social media, obsessed with instant gratification, irresponsible job hoping, couch surfing, Funyuns munching, helicopter parenting  coddled blobs who should be excommunicated from the gene pool; though good luck telling that to anyone 40 or above. Complaints about the millennial generation, roughly those born between 1980 and 2000, began when these young people started entering into the workforce in earnest, after college, late to the game according to some people. Initially it was employers who had no idea what to do with the young people applying for jobs who seemed if-y in their commitment to the company, wanting to schedule work around their yoga classes and other personal pursuits, how unheard of, willing to tell employers equally obsessed with their starched white shirt, suit and tie 1950’s, 1960’s business as usual work ethic to take their job and shove it; employment consulting businesses in turn popping up teaching millennials, who had “climbed mount Everest, seen far corners of the world, done everything but hold a job, because mowing lawns didn’t get you into Harvard” to cover their tattoos, even lessons on using a knife and fork, all toward getting them hired. Missed was that these young people knew their worth, knew the pitfalls of yelling like Mr. Spacely from the Jetson’s and wanted to find the job that was right for them before being saddled with the responsibility of a family, or that the whole country was in for a rude awakening courtesy of the recession. Fast forward 4 years to 2012 and some of the same complaints still existed, young people so attached to their tech they can’t even be bothered to obtain a driver’s license; one writer calling it the occupy movement we needed to be worried about in their New York Times piece The Go-Nowhere Generation, somehow  forgetting Augie March and Tom Joad were characters from historical fiction classics, James Dean and Marlon Brando were old hat by the 80’s when this generations earliest members were born and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” was written before their time too. Not to mention surviving in today’s world, today’s economy is more complicated than a $200 Greyhound bus ticket to escape high unemployment numbers, traversing the country chasing that lucrative, life-long dream career, or that if you’re not risk averse you are not paying attention, it isn’t generation why bother it’s generation why am I going to purposely destroy myself; points I made in my counterpoint blog linked below. It has become almost cliché to hate this generation so called true adults citing plenty of examples of youth behaving badly from sex, drug and rap-music filled spring breaks to beating up defenseless homeless people, to contributing to their peers’ suicide by bullying, the afluenza kid “raised in such a wealthy environment he didn’t know right from wrong when he killed 4 people in a drunk driving escapade.” Who’s still on their parent’s couch, whose stealing their grandmother’s social security checks, children who’ve been known to kill their parents; this is the generation that birthed the term school shooter, many of whom have also been another 21st century term, mass shooter. Adults from the 50’s 60’s and 70’s, even some from the early 80’s have been saying it for nearly a decade millennials are the least skilled, least educated despite degrees, diplomas and certificates, the least knowledgeable and the least self-motivate generation to date projecting all kinds of dooms day scenarios for society, the economy, the labor market and the future of America, a once great nation already, according to them, definitively on the decline, a living breathing version of the movie Idiocracy they have long feared was in the making.

Generation Go Nowhere or Nowhere to Go?

Now they believe they have tangible, irrefutable proof even the greatest optimists can’t argue with backed by a time honored tradition, research; judgments validated by tests performed on people age 16-65 across 22 countries in the areas of literacy, numeracy (applying math to everyday situations) and problem solving in technology rich environments, millennials fare far worse than previous generations ranking 20th in literacy, second to last in technical problem solving and dead last in math, statistics holding even spanning every demographic imaginable. Buzz60’s prime example, “millennials with doctorates got smoked by the populations of 20 other countries with doctorates.” Since this was a slightly over one minute sound bite on a pop culture website, missing are key details about which 22 countries participated besides the United States, how test takers in each age, country bracket were selected, how many participants from each country were there, were there large discrepancies in the number of participants in categories like age or country over all? Assumedly participation was voluntary, so does it say more about skill levels globally or more about people who have the time, willingness to participate; next how was the test administered, on paper, on computer, were there time limits to each section, how easy was it to correct a wrong answer if you circled the wrong thing, clicked the wrong button, could you even do such a thing, all effecting results. What is not up for debate is typical reaction to the uncovered research outcomes mirroring reaction to international student assessment tests educators, economists, job placement works, not the least of which politicians up in arms about America’s ability to compete, prophesying doom if we don’t improve be it in wages, GDP, schools vowing to do better, others bemoaning standards, blaming culture, finding one more reason teens, millennials, the nicknamed worst generation needs a sobering reality check. The tests availability online and the Buzz60’s questioning quasi-challenge, could you do better, offers some clues to our unanswered questions at the same time exposing some of the same problems held in the most common student assessment the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment); concerning the latter Denmark satiations noted huge flaws in comparing incongruent school systems, grade levels and covered material across grade levels in participating countries to get an accurate picture of scholastic achievement, subject knowledge. Also cited by the same country’s satiations, a wide variance in question format year to year, even questions used year to year within a 5 year period and how that drastically impacted the results, a factor often pointed to here when it comes to state exams performance numbers; how that relates to the latest unveiled research is, it begs the question are there enough congruent factors across the 22 counties, at minimum as many cultures evaluated, taking into account educational background, post-secondary educational degree field if applicable, current work life, current and prior jobs held, home/everyday life experiences? Something says the answer is no particularly valuable information in sizing up numeracy, technical problem solving scores. Further when you say literacy most think of the ability to read, reading comprehension and following written directions, why is there a sneaky suspicion that in addition to those measurements there was knowledge of literary classics possibly divided by country, dragging down their scores being out of touch with Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald hindering what is purported to be a life skills test. Speaking of life skills, unmentioned was any correlation between high test stores and career achievement; logical conclusion, like the PISA for students, there probably isn’t any. Reasonably inferred as well is that research coordinators did not employ video cameras to follow subjects around recording what type of, how much numeracy they used on the job, in their daily lives, the type of reading material they need to consume, decipher at work, forms, documents read at home for tax purposes, applying for social services, medical forms, forms for their children’s school, items read for pleasure. Similarly, how much technical problem solving did they use regularly on the job, in their career field, how much technical problem solving did they use at home, tidbits like do they own a computer; what do they primarily use their home PC for, shopping, paying bills, topic searches through search engines like Google, videos, gaming, news, TV programs?  Are they familiar with any computer code, perform their own computer maintenance/repair, software additions or do they take them to professionals in their county’s equivalent of Best Buy? Do technical problem solving scores logically increase for those who use it routinely at work, hold degrees in their country’s version of computer science, information systems, computer programing; the reverse also logically true those with less, no training, minimal education in those areas scoring lower? Did the scores exclusively between persons holding doctorate degrees vary widely based on what their doctorate was achieved in; i.e. a doctorate in English, history, education is far different than one in physics, biology, neuroscience. You would have a far better understanding of math, technology based questions if the latter was your intensive field of study shifting the results yet again. Because there is no video, no shadowing individuals throughout their ordinary lives there is subsequently nothing about thought process put into decisions made, assessment about their capability to manage daily lives; oh and for those who want to try the test for themselves, answer Buzz60 host’s challenge, better have Firefox 10 plus web browser or the test won’t load properly continuing to limit unofficial results across population- hmm.

Better to say Millennials don’t take tests well a potential explanation to ever plunging test scores and the parallel irrefutable fact the world hasn’t spun off its axis, Americans haven’t blown themselves to bits, suffered major nuclear fallout, though ironically Japan has, Fukushima anyone, been party to any major, long lasting civil unrest, self-made disaster. A test taking phenomenon emerging in gen Z  also, my best friend’s 3rd grade son hates the fast math computer program used to assess math skills, repeatedly asks the teacher for pencil and paper, when he had trouble counting change, understanding money in 2nd grade it immediately evaporated when his mother gave him real coins and asked him to identify each one, tell how much they were worth, had him purchase items at the store under her watchful eye and based on money given to him calculate cash he should get back, which he did almost perfectly; demonstrating it is just as important how you test something than that you test it. This young man will have no problem with critical cash handling skills, money sense; making truly smart people wonder how many other subjects, topics and assessments would turn out differently if it were approached from such a standpoint. Too adjacent to comments made about the PISA, how seriously did any of the participants take the test, millennial or other age brackets; did the highest scores come from so called pressure cooker nations who put extraordinary emphasis on said test scores in determining further education, job, career choices? Because, as American analysts highlighted regarding the student assessment there is a drastically different approach, mindset for them than there would be for an American student knowing they can take something like the ACT, SAT multiple times and on their own time schedule; were the only millennials available to take the test those who fit older generations’ stereotype of them, sitting on their parents couch inhaling junk food and playing video games because they don’t like their job options, who are indeed too lazy to be productive and behaving stupidly if not inherently stupid, providing a skewed perspective of both Americans and the millennial age bracket?  Besides, the high suicide rate is vastly underplayed in such counties significantly belying messages of achievement, success, excellence so easily causing us to go green with envy. Being bad at standardized testing may actually be a good thing before we even tackle the non-parallel between them and employment, the complete lack of indicators even hinting at higher scores on PISA or the Buzz60 referenced test and increased, better, more efficient job performance, independent of where you work; one thing we do know about the PISA and similar formatted tests like the ones the current researchers used, schools, education systems centered around their outcomes, generating positive scores, is it stifles another key to success, entrepreneurial spirit, the drive and desire to create own your own business. Forget student push back against common core, revolting against state exams, outright refusing to take things tied to teacher pay, school funding and other non-academic reasons for them; right now there is a debate here at home asking if schools are killing creativity, stifling key ingredients like innovation, exploration, discovery. Lastly addressing the tests’ obvious functionality problems, results misinterpretations, limitations, when one college stopped using the ACT/SAT as an entrance requirement to their programs they ultimately garnered a more diverse applicant pool, increased graduation rate and a decreased dropout rate. Numbers proving a follow up to what has been said about pressure cooker nation students attending college in the U.S. who have trouble with emotions, empathy, understanding literature; students, predominately but not always, from foreign countries who have perfect, near perfect ACT/SAT scores who struggled when asked to write, think creatively, form an opinion. Interesting is the why behind a growing number of colleges deciding to ditch ACT/SAT scoring requirements calling them speed processing tests and asserting not everyone does well on speed processing tests; hardly unnoticed are the rampant cheating scandals k-12 perpetuated either by teachers, school administrators worried about their jobs or school funding, students frightened they won’t get into a prestigious college, students using security gaps in the system to have someone else sit the test for them, being paid handsomely to do so, or the multi-billion dollar industry that has sprouted offering ACT/SAT tutorials, prep surrounding a test that neither measures intelligence or aptitude for college life, desired field of study, future employment. Additionally millennials poor job performance, supposedly abysmal life management, performance can be traced to one thing, little to non-existent job training internships, apprenticeships; in other words the system that propelled past generations so far.


Sure it’s narrowed into buzz words, sound bites, derogatory, sarcastic catch phrases and generalizations like skills gap, a generation so consumed by instant gratification, handicapped by their own inflated sense of entitlement to be willing to get the boss’ coffee because they went to Harvard, so focused on fantasies perpetuated by everyone from Mr. Rogers to doting parents they are unwilling to work except under their version of ideal conditions. A generation unwilling to do things like welding, mechanics, masonry, construction, farming, plumbing, accompanied by headline grabbing articles chronicling how “illiterate and unprepared” young people are for the “real” world, for the jobs they seem to think they have a right to rather than have to earn, showcase any prowess at actually doing. But has that ever been the true, real picture; take articles like the CNBC employment trend feature Why Johnny Can’t Write, and Why Employers are Mad,” between all the finger pointing about who is responsible k-12 schools, colleges, gen X and gen Y exposure, reliance on technology, when you got down to it they are wanting soft communication skills, writing coalesced around persuasion, not simply basic knowledge of the 3 R’s on a high school, college level, business level. And what they were begging business schools to engrain in their students was practical experience, the one thing they can’t get because companies won’t give it. Related articles linked into the above title confronted the skills gap and what hiring firms call the purple squirrel; since we are in a recovering economy, things are still bad, creating an employer’s market, they feel their hired job candidate has to have a perfect record and a perfect combination of their preferred skills, tides just now turning. Though employers still maintain the skills gap is not theirs to fix despite many companies overlooking qualified applicants because job descriptions are too vague, too specific, recruiters believe candidates must have every listed skill; trends also found in CNBC materials. Anecdotal evidence, consistent reading of want ads spotlights other factors contributing to long bemoaned worker shortages, millennials unemployment; employers who want mismatched skillsets far removed from each other clerical work and stable cleaning, forklift operation, engineers who can also fill boardroom level management positions; employers who clearly haven’t sat down and thought about what skills they need so they include everything right along with that proverbial kitchen sink, haven’t thought about skills acquired from related jobs, career fields fitting nicely into their organization without an exact match. You can’t get a job when, because you have some college, a degree minimum wage doesn’t want you, medial wage work like clerical, administrative assistants want knowledge of, prior experience with specialty computer programs you only learn on the job, but they are unwilling to train you to use even if you have basic computer skills and when getting a job depends more on the condition of your teeth, your walking gate, your credit score, the cleanliness of your car, ability to answer nonsense behavioral analysis questions about what animal you are, assessing compatibility over competency. You can’t make a college degree serviceable in getting you a job without practical experience housed in an internship, apprenticeship either for lab certifications, lines on your résumé, someone just willing to give you your first degree field related job. Nor can you be prepared for beyond minimum wage, medial labor work, properly choose a college degree to study  when employers continue to be tight lipped about how to get job position X, how to enter career category Y, do not speak to middle, high schools and colleges about proficiency needed in subjects Z to get popular, in demand jobs. But millennials are stupid, lazy and unmotivated; frankly the truly stupid, lazy and unmotivated persons are the dinosaurs in business answering the CNBC referenced surveys, the crust buckets managing companies who are still rutted in their my way or the highway ideas unwilling to coordinate with local educational institutions to fill their needs, engaging in age discrimination either younger because of the perceptions garnered about them or older because they might retire at your company, might use benefits offered, have so much experience they will want commiserate higher pay. Where you do encounter the generational teeny bopper airheaded, always blond, clueless, no substance millennial working a job you wonder how they got it, it’s less what mommy/daddy’s connections have done for them, that who they knew has obviously paid off more than what and more where no one has attempted to match inherent natural skill sets, abilities in scholastic subjects, college courses, degree offerings with real would jobs. Employers on the opposite extreme hiring little more than a warm body for important positions in 911 dispatch operation, specialty bus scheduling, medical offices, hiring candidates for their social skills, good telephone voices and nothing else, employees even in lower wage work who blatantly have had no standard job training you can only get on that specific job, unique to this store, restaurant exc. Certainly most can agree it was foolish of this teen millennial (video below) to post such a thing and expect to keep her new job; however, 3 big issues loom larger here than her poor choices in twitter posts, her unenthusiastic approach to employment. A-her complaints, her attitude aren’t new, products of a selfish, indulged generation never having had to work for anything in their lives; teens were rarely ever excited about their first job, their retail, fast food, manual labor, customer service centered entry into the labor market apart from the pocket money it would give them. Only the medium delivering their complaints has changed; where employers never used to know what their workers said about them off the job, technology has made worker comment easier to find, criticize and fire because of.

For those wondering why she applied for the job when she plainly didn’t want it, didn’t care if she had one or not judging by her response to the abrupt twitter firing; this happens when mentors, parents hound teens to get a job either because they are tired of paying for their luxuries, want them to learn the value of a dollar or bolster their résumé. Problem is they did so without any further guidance, direction or suggestion operating on the it was good enough for me, it’s where I started mentality; ignoring you and your child, the child you mentor, advise are two different people, perhaps polar opposites with differing natural talents, scholastic strengths, skill sets and attempting to help them find a minimum wage, entry level position where they can be successful, possibly be passionate about, like their work instead of yelling for them to get a damn job, asserting such “humbling” work is good for you. Next what was he, her employer, doing with her twitter, social media information, why was he snooping, staking her accounts; independent of if he was tipped off about her derogatory comments about starting the job by another employee, first what is he running a pizza joint or an informant service, how did either party know for sure they had the right person? After all she made no mention of her place of work or her boss, the photo used on the account was burry, could have been any number of teen girls; he could have just as easily posted her firing on some unknown, similar looking, similar twitter handle, girl’s account appearing creepy. Exactly what many said in YouTube comments such as this one: why do job employers stalk peoples social media accounts???…  One time I applied for home depot and during the interview, I noticed he had a paper copy of my facebook account, but my account there was nothing bad on it, just a typical boring account of my name and family and my past schools and work I had and information for people to contact me but, the employer had my entire copy of my account and posts from other people and they even searched their names through facebook…. and during the entire interview he never mentioned anything about my facebook or why he had copies of it…..I didn’t ask because, I think I wanted the job and didn’t want to be rude… isn’t that creepy for them to have copies of friends account and their posts for my interview???” [Sic] Actions smacking far too much of employers refusing to hire or firing persons over benign behaviors done in their own time, participating in a rock band, bikini contest, wearing a specific sports tie to work, possessing a blog, no not badmouthing your employer with it, just having one, pictures posted to Facebook that are innocuous, viewing your credit report, checking the cleanliness of your car, setting up honesty checks by leaving money, intellectual property in plain sight to see what you will do; worse using Skype or other webcam technology to conduct interviews across the country, across the globe often giving a bird’s eye view into someone’s bedroom then judging them for crooked pictures and an unmade bed supposedly belying attention to detail, a Victoria’s Secret poster on one qualified candidates wall deemed inappropriate. Even more staggering and unsettling was both the proliferation of this trend into all jobs, not exclusively tech, and what experts suggested to combat the potential problems including investing in a home office, not putting your web enabled computer, webcam in a bedroom at least for the purposes of the interview, buying specific colored backdrops or seamless paper to cover windows for lighting; not employers learning, knowing what they can and cannot judge a job candidate on, accounting for one bedroom apartments, poor persons who may not even have said technology, or have one operational phone line in their dwelling that happens to be in their bedroom, the only quiet, low traffic place to hold an interview. Lastly and most importantly, though an overwhelming majority believe she got what she deserved, why, if her attitude was unacceptable, not worthy of working there did he stoop to her level firing her the way he did; why is he well within his rights and she labeled a spoiled, disrespectful, ungrateful, useless  brat? Both are guilty of bad behavior, something pointed out by the pizza chain’s corporate office telling news outlets quoted in a Time magazine article they were unhappy with each person’s conduct; better yet, the onus was on whom to be the professional, the manager or the teen employee? Raising real questions about who is obsessed with social media, who is most guilty of misusing social media, using social media to get personal attention for frivolous reasons, posting things for the sheer melodrama; teens, millennials or older adults? Who could forget the father who shot his daughter’s laptop posting it on YouTube well past millennial age, parents, adults getting into Facebook fights over nonsense at times with tragic, criminal results; the parent who posed as a teen to avenge her bullied daughter only goading the bully to suicide, later facing charges? The angry old man who really wants his deep dish, went psycho when his washing machine was repoed is also “angry grandpa” YouTube personality; my regular readers remember me chronicling religious fervor in the United States government, lawmakers holding up unrelated major and minor legislation because of a religious item they wanted added to bills choosing state animals, fossils, adding abortion riders and religious liberty language to students trying to be a greater part of selecting school administration, old and entitled behavior displayed in public placed online largely because people can hardly believe it. But millennials are the only ones routinely called useless. If anything social media is an equal opportunity displayer of outrageous behavior on the part of young and old.

Finally literacy, numeracy and technical problem solving isn’t the sum total usefulness of a human being, isn’t the sole measure of a person’s worth to society, their contribution to that society, isn’t the summation of their character, you don’t have to excel exclusively in these areas to be useful; likewise you can be very proficient in all of the above and still be dangerous, detrimental to society, your employer and yourself. Case in point, look at the Germanwings airline, they knew about the pilot’s mental health history, he was easily able to hide doctors forms that would have made him unfit to fly, and after having done what he did the top brass at Germanwings still arrogantly insisted there was no reason to change flight procedures while the rest of the western world was scrambling to follow the American example having two people in the cockpit at all times. No doubt 9-11 taught us that and maybe it was a lesson we should have learned beforehand, but what exactly is the rest of the world’s excuse, especially after what just happened; test scores aren’t the only thing of importance. And who says millennials are not using technical problem solving, math; the students at Stanford designing a portable incubator for India and the rest of the developing word surely did, as did the students at George Mason University experimenting with sound waves to put out fires, how about the UC Berkeley students smart bandage using a tiny computer biosensor to detect bedsores before they fully form? These are tangible things positively changing the world around them; robots mimicking human emotion, facial expressions have gone from a frivolous use of parts and technical skill to already aiding children with autism, another teen hopes to do good with his app connecting job seeking young people with local businesses, apparently half the battle today, making those critical connections. Slightly younger than a millennial giving us a glimpse at the promise of gen Z is the 13 year old who used an advanced Lego building set and extensive practice creating all kinds of things to design a low cost braille printer for the blind winning money from Intel to perfect his design, begin his own company. Proving millennials, millennial teens want to know they are on the right track to doing positive things, their work is important, matters in advancing to more than a dead end, pee-on job, none of which equates to instant gratification even by its broadest definition. Showcasing several things lost about the millennial generation, that their goals are ultimately to give back, have a positive impact on their community known for organizing food and clothing drives, charities, emergency packs to be given to disaster victims, giving up their spring break for religious camps, working for habitat for humanity, community beautification projects, are most likely to petition lawmakers to change things they find unfair, detrimental to vulnerable sections of their city, state, gain a state fossil, amphibian for everything from interest to highlighting endangered species. When given an opportunity to use their talents their way, when given a chance to demonstrate their creativity toward solving real problems, dealing with real issues not a standardized test, not a simple, to be employed job, they shine, wowing us with their innovation, dedication and results, surpassing all our expectations. Children and teens are the ones to identify school shootings, mass shootings are not the product of video games, are the ones you also see featured on TV for having saved someone’s life like the ones on Good Morning America who gave CPR to an unconscious stranger thanks to what they learned in health class, were integral in saving a toddler snatched from his stroller, chased by his siblings and returned home safely, a teen is who reported the white van to police after the disappearance of Ben Ownby  leading to the rescue of him and Shawn Hornbeck, who don’t consider themselves heroes who don’t walk away with an inflated head simply think themselves decent persons. At the end of the day the old system people are waxing nostalgic for be it at work, out in the world now doesn’t function anymore; employers want monochromatic, suit and tie wearing 40, 50, 60 hour a week lapdogs but refuse to supply the experience needed to get them, the small incentives, change in perspective to get them, they demonstrate their complete lack of understanding  common knowledge of the human brain how people learn, how people with specific talents are wired expecting business students who possess an inherent talent for numbers, business terminology, forms, regulation even advertising to be as dazzling as a creative writer in written communication or have a problem because the writing is too flashy.  Perhaps business moguls should be looking at blogs written in their particular field,  market share or product category; odds are they were written by a teen giving the world a practical view of whatever it is you sell, the service you market and quite lucratively too. So much for Johnny can’t write and employers are mad for entirely different reasons.  Blatantly disregarded are the millennials living on their parents couch who, despite the trend, the projection are working medial labor, minimum wage jobs gotten in high school, college currently trying to pay down massive student loan debt, who have delayed buying homes, sometimes cars [cough gratification] to do so. And that stereotypical teeny bopper, air head who isn’t doing so good at the local pizza palace, burger barn or Gap store will eventually find where they fit in best getting jobs as CNA’s, home health aides, dental assistants, multiple social services degrees, positions, receptionists who will remain in the job because they like working, interacting with people; ironically most for less than the standard 4 year college or tech school degree, the fate of older millennials born 1980 to 1990.  Far from useless considering the growing healthcare industry, the growing need for elder care, special needs, adults with developmental issues like autism care, hmmm.