As children we are filled with dreams and idealistic ambitions, we want to be astronauts or knights or flowers! We tell our children now to dream and explore, but somehow take this away when they’re teenagers. While our children want to win the Nobel Prize or be a famous adventurer, our teenagers face the world with apathy and resentfulness. Where are we going wrong, when and how are our young people losing their spark and enthusiasm for work?
One school of thought comes from research that indicates advertising is changing adolescent values and perceptions. This has resulted in high school students being highly materialistic but without the drive to work hard to earn the money they need to buy all the things they want. This theory, however, is fairly limiting to the intelligence and capacity of young people, and perhaps boxes them into a stereotype that further diminishes their opportunity with employers.
For most young people, they are largely driven by seeking autonomy and forging their own identity and goals separate to their parents. For the current generation of young people, this is coupled with a scepticism and impatience that has manifested through awareness and skills developed through technology. Changes in society and technology make manoeuvring this life stage particularly difficult for young people today.
While dreaming of being a flower or a professional friend to dogs isn’t achievable or realistic for a young person looking to make their way in the world, idealistic aspiration often sees much success when coupled with determination. In order to break through the apathy many young people are developing due to fear and scepticism, we need to inspire and trust.
How can we inspire young people to be determined?
Often feelings of apathy stem from a fear of failure or the unknown. With a wealth of career options and paths to get there, it is harder than ever for young people to know what direction they should go and where to start. Often, jobs and sectors that need staff, are the least visible and most convoluted, making the only choices for young people the careers of those who they know.
In order to help young people understand why their schooling is important, and get some inspiration for their path, we need to share our own career experiences and passions. A person’s journey, passion and success are more motivating than any poster, video or article about careers that a young person could read.
There are various ways to get involved with young people and share your career experience and passions.
- Speak in schools to share about your career and industry with students, help broaden their horizons and make informed subject choices, understand the application of their studies and develop a focus.
- Host year 11 and 12 students studying your industry in your business or workplace for week-long blocks and show them your passion! Show them what working in that industry is realistically like and help them improve their skills for the future. Learning hands-on skills help young people concentrate better when learning the theory in the classroom.
- Provide work experience or a job for young people who lost their way when leaving school. By taking a chance on a young person trying to create their own future after a hard start, you not only inspire confidence and improve self-esteem, but contribute immeasurable value into a young person’s life and their future.