Despite being an up-and-coming, in-demand generation, and one that’s consistently shaping how we think about work, Millennials—ages 22-35 and the largest percentage of the workforce—are still having a hard time finding reasonable jobs. Presently, the Millennial unemployment rate stands at an unfortunate 12.8 percent compared to the national average of 4.9 percent.
Why is this happening? The modern American workplace needs Millennials to gain experience and replace previous generations—but they seem to be facing a uniquely difficult challenge doing so compared to other generations.
In a survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, many employers believe recent college graduates are underdeveloped in key workplace skills like interpersonal communication, critical thinking, and organization. These skills aren’t taught in higher education. Instead, students focus on theoretical studies making it harder for Millennials, who believe themselves to be highly qualified, to land even the most basic jobs.
This isn’t just a higher ed problem. Data collected at Learning Sciences International found most U.S. classrooms from primary to high school, even advanced AP classes, are not supporting the level of cognitive complexity and student autonomy necessary to prepare students for the new economy workforce.
While how we educate has fallen under scrutiny, concerns about who will educate have also emerged.
Since 2013, XYZ University has celebrated Halloween by reporting on the scariest workforce stats and we felt it was important to spotlight the education industry this year, especially considering these industry stats:
- The school-going population will increase by roughly three million students in the next decade
- Public schools in 48 states and the District of Columbia report teacher shortages.
- Teachers make about 20 percent less than college graduates in other fields.
- Millennials now make up the majority of new teacher hires. Unfortunately, less than half of them will still be teachers in five years.
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The teaching workforce continues to be a leaky bucket, losing hundreds of thousands of teachers each year—the majority before retirement age. Of those who leave teaching voluntarily, most teachers list some type of dissatisfaction as very influential in their decision to leave the profession. Young teachers often cite feeling ostracized and excluded.
If changing attrition would change the projected teacher shortages more than any other single factor, why isn’t there more emphasis placed on workforce culture and employee experience in our school systems?
We have moved rapidly from a manufacturing-centric economy to a global, technologically advanced, knowledge-based economy. The pressure is on for teachers to prep students for a world we can’t even imagine. It’s become painfully obvious that our schools will struggle to properly educate and prepare students for the workforce without the support of a stable, engaged teaching workforce.
Clearly, education needs to be revamped. A change is required, and every school needs to be reassessing and prioritizing how it raises talent – on both the student side and the teaching side.
This is an awesome and urgent responsibility. Talent is our nation’s greatest asset. Talent is the heart and soul of every organization, and developing that talent starts as early as grade school. We can, and must, do better at educating future generations and engaging our educators in this worthwhile and important cause.