“What Your Intern Is Really Thinking, “ written by our staff Millennial, Grace Ehlers addresses the seemingly cavalier and misguided view among most companies about her generation, particularly those with college degrees. The article was justifiably critical, in my opinion, of companies assuming that these “best and brightest” of the Millennials should be available for hire as non-compensated “interns.” She has a follow-up article in which she challenges the misconceptions among many companies about the work ethics and career expectations of her generation.
So, as I set forth my argument regarding the deflation and devaluation of our economy and everything in it, due to our shift from value creation to value consumption, exacerbated by our new, “less-free- market” form of capitalism, it struck me how this shift is, and will continue to have perhaps its greatest negative impact on Grace’s generation. Conversely, it also struck me how this shift is wasting this generation as the greatest asset we have, and if given the chance, they might provide the very solution we need to reverse our economic decline.
Here’s the scenario for these Millennials. On totally reverse trajectories we have an economy that is shifting from higher-paying manufacturing jobs, including those in charge of running those companies, who also happen to require higher intelligence and professional skills, to lower-paying service jobs (feeding a consumption economy), and which require a lower set of skills and level of education. So not only fewer jobs, but lower paying jobs that are well beneath the skills of college graduates.
Furthermore, the theory that once we lost our manufacturing base we would simply move up the “food chain,” creating wealth and higher levels of value through innovation, technology and science has been debunked by many economists. In short, engineering, science and technology degrees are being sought less by students instead favoring MBA’s and liberal arts. And, while thousands of foreign students do seek those degrees from our best universities, they are finding it almost impossible (for many reasons) to obtain visas to stay and work in the US. Thus we not only lose their intelligence for these higher “food chain” industries, we are in fact, exporting these industries to China, India and other countries around the world. And, while all of this is happening, more and more young people than ever before have been graduating with college degrees.
However, most of them are heavily in debt for educational loans, (in the aggregate, about $1 trillion, and the percentage of borrowers who are more than 90 days delinquent has risen to 17%, from 10% in 2004). And the number of young Americans without a job has exploded to 53.4% —a post-World War II high, according to the Labor Department.
So, fewer and fewer jobs and more and more educated young people in dire need of jobs, spells tragedy. It is a tragedy because as I said, we are wasting our most valuable asset, the one cohort of our population who, if given a chance, might figure out how to reverse the economic decline.