For the past years, we have heard educators and business people express their serious concerns about the new generation of young people now entering the job market. They call them ‘the curling generation’. Apparently, this is a generation who have grown up surrounded by concerned and caring adults who have swept away all obstacles for them in a misguided attempt at making life as convenient and carefree as possible. As a consequence, it is claimed that this is a genereation who will tolerate no hardships.
This is not the first example – nor will it be the last – of adults who express their concerns about a genereation. The stories are often different variations of the same two themes. In some cases, it´s the story of ‘the spoiled generation’. In other cases, we hear stories about ‘the victimized generation’; for instance, when we hear the horrid stories about children whose development is crippled by the fact that they spend a large proportion of their everyday lives in front of a screen.
It is always appropriate to be concerned about children’s development and the potential ill-effects of new materials or objects. But the content of the debate is often misleading. No one has made an attempt to put the debate into a more positive perspective. For the past 10 years at least, politicians, management gurus and industrial leaders have been propagating that the future work environment will be characterized by constant change and that we need to create a work force characterized by a higher degree of ‘readiness for change’.
We have a generation of young people who have grown up in a highly changeable society, where they have had the freedom, but also the responsibility, to find out what was right for them. They are not only used to constant change, but they actually thrive on it and expect it in their everyday work!! In many ways, they are the incarnations of what the management gurus and industrial leaders were crying out for. What a success! But instead, we complain that they are spoiled and unfit for the job market, because they reject routine tasks and because their sense of loyalty is not to the same extent driven by external forces, such as a sense of duty or a fear of repercussions, but to a higher degree by internal forces, such as personal motivation and opportunities for continuous learning.