Don't Underestimate the Young

An article by Dr Lynda Shaw


The younger generation need to be encouraged to stay in the UK before they seek work elsewhere around the world, urges Psychologist and Age Specialist, Dr Lynda Shaw.

Western birth rates are declining, the global birth rate has dropped from 22/1000 of the population in 2000 to 19.14/1000 last year and the world is “shrinking” becoming increasingly easy to travel and more westernised. The seemingly deteriorating weather in the UK adds to the problem of students choosing to seek employment abroad. On top of this, the rise in University fees to £9,000 in the UK has opened up the economic viability of choosing universities overseas according to Dr Shaw. Already we witnessed over 50,000 fewer applicants for courses in 2012.


Dr Lynda Shaw says: “We need to act now to prevent this trend from worsening, we must hold on to the young in the UK and understanding their psychological profile can help to recognise what it is they need to keep them employed and distract them from moving abroad and taking their talents with them.

“Young people today are highly responsible and take life very seriously. They hunger for training and development, but will not hang around for long drawn out courses. They expect to learn whilst contributing to a company. It is worth noting that the developing teenage brain with all it’s pruning and reorganising hasn’t quite finished until roughly the mid 20s. This means that someone in their early 20s is still exploring their identity and may seek change in order to grow. Therefore, employers need to work even harder to engage all this wonderful new talent."

“In addition, our young workers have also been brought up watching their parents fear redundancy, governments and banks who behave both dishonestly and unethically. It’s no wonder this generation will feel no loyalty to companies, can you blame them? A good employer will recognise this and strive to earn loyalty so that employees will go that extra mile when things get tough.”

According to recent research conducted by Dr Shaw, 67% of those aged 18-24 feel more pressured than anything else to have a good career. Dr Shaw says: “We need to support and inspire the young to ensure desirability of working in the UK especially as it is a huge transitional stage moving from education to work. It is important to make the young in the workforce feel valued and respected rather than the lowest of the low within a company.”

Management style is not a ‘one size fits all’ policy, everybody is different according to Shaw, and younger members of the team need to have their opinions heard and to have training opportunities as the life blood of an organisation and shouldn’t be cast aside on the basis of less experience.

“My research identified the young desire good training, and clear career progression with 81% of those under 25 claiming to be highly ambitious. They want to feel valued and respected as part of a team, with a true ability to contribute to the organisation and not just on a continuous learning treadmill. However, despite their overwhelming ambition to succeed, it is important to ensure they do not get ahead of themselves. Where they may excel in drive and motivation, they lack in business acumen – young entrepreneurs often struggle with the concept of cash flow, savings and how to grow a business. Therefore, in understanding their wants – training, development, responsibility – businesses must apply these, thus helping to improve their all-round skill set and ability to deliver exceptional results for that sector.”

The recession has had a big impact on the availability of jobs, particularly graduate schemes that are notoriously competitive with numbers of applicants far exceeding positions available. High Fliers Research recently reported that graduates with no work experience are likely to be discounted instantly, with 36% of graduate positions going to graduates who had already gained work experience within the same company.

Shaw says: “It is vital for graduates to gain essential work experience to build their confidence and understanding of their world which they are applying to join, but also crucial for businesses to make it readily available to them. Graduates and school leavers need to be given a chance, an opportunity to prove their worth but also to be respected and challenged.”

For about Dr Lynda Shaw, please click here

Back to editorial features