Student: The Millennial Dilemna
2012. A very memorable year for some. Do you remember it for the London Olympics? Andy Murray winning the U.S Open? What about Manchester City scoring THAT Aguero goal to clinch the Premier League? Well, being a Millennial, I remember it as the year new university students had begun to pay triple than what their predecessors did.
Since the tuition fees hike in the UK it’s fair to say Millenials have had it rough. The increase of fees from £3K to £9K is a massive change and one of which has perhaps forced them to take a hard look at their future prospects earlier than they’d thought. Some may now second guess if their degree is right for them; not through fear of entering a course they may not enjoy, but more by asking themselves ‘will this get me a job after I graduate?’ The thought of leaving university with debt levels of at least £27K would deter anyone wishing to study an arts or humanities course — not without a clear idea of what use the degree will give them afterwards.
A Job. Eww.
What about biting the bullet and finding any normal 9–6 job and working your way up? This is a very viable and steady idea, but circumstances have changed. The average life expectancy for humans has increased over the years, and as a result people are going to retire much later on depending on their circumstances. Workplaces are becoming older, and the progression opportunities will become more limited. Think of it as a pyramid; the higher you go the less job availability/opportunities to progress you will have. Only a small few can make it to the top of each corporation, and you could be waiting a while for your chance to come. This is assuming you have a smooth ride to the top; something which is now unheard of in any major firm. Unemployment is at a record low which is fantastic, but it doesn’t mean everyone who is working is happy or content with their current job environment/situation.
Add in the factor that recently the Education Select Committee has revealed Millenials are now being left with the choice of taking any job available, as graduate jobs have become more competitive & scarce at the same time. The weight of debt looming over any student would pressurise them into finding work straight away after graduating. There have been many instances where the first offer of any job is taken without thinking, ‘is this job right for me?’
Let us also not forget the key fact that the majority of the employment world will ask for a university degree as a minimum educational prerequisite, adding more pressure on Generation Z students to go to university and rack up the debt.
When Millenials look at the previous generation they have seen success stories of those having the ability to buy a house sooner than later. Realistically Millenials will be hard pushed to find a place for themselves until much later on in their career — property prices are increasingly steadily but the wages being paid to them are not keeping pace. As the government wonders how to stimulate Millenials into getting on the property ladder by creating schemes such as Help to Buy, it could be worth considering that the society created for the previous generation of students is no longer the same. Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense to change the playing field and even the odds on both sides as well? We are the future after all.
So where does this cycle end? What can be changed?
There has been a noticeable uptick in those wishing to ‘start their own gig’ with a friend or on their own. The rise of Social Media has leveled the playing field for anyone to try and start their own business, idea or sharing a passion/hobby and take it to the masses. This sounds more simple than it should, however do not let this detract from the latest ‘trend’ created among other Millenials. They tend to live on Social Media as it is seen as the new revolution of where attention is shifting towards.
Thankfully some workplaces are now recognising the changes, and are adapting as a result. This has been noticeable in places such as the Startup Community to major global companies like Google & Facebook. Simple changes to make work more comforting for graduates such as flexible work hours, the ability to work from home or even coming to work in less formal attire has made the transition from university a bit smoother. The removal of simple desk layouts is slowly beginning to deteriorate and let us hope this trend continues to thrive. Okay a bean bag in the office place may not solve all issues, but it is a starting point for acknowledging changing demographics.