Generation Why?

Last week we wrote about Gen Y and why they are known as the ‘boomerang kids’. Looking at how they live is one factor, but it is also interesting to see the dramatic shift in their attitude to employment when compared to their parents’ attitude.

The latest employment data shows that three in ten workers are employed on a casual or part-time basis; for Gen Y, this number is significantly larger. While this is somewhat expected, the reasons why are particularly interesting. Age is NOT the only factor. Boomers place far more importance on job tenure in one’s 20s than do younger generations; for just over one-third of Boomers it is ‘very important’, while just 10 per cent of Y-ers think so.

So now we know why our parents keep telling us to ‘get a real job’ in our 20s!

Research from demographer Mark McCrindle points to a potential explanation of this phenomenon: Gen Y seem to grow their career (or at least think they can) in a markedly different way to how their parents did. For Generation Y, it’s by taking on better job opportunities that one gains experience and climbs the career ladder. For Boomers, it was by staying with a company and showing loyalty and stability that experience and promotions were gained.

McCrindle states that ‘We are dealing with a very empowered group of Australians. Generation Y is accurately labelled Generation “why”. Articulate, sceptical, and not afraid to push-back, this low compliance generation is entering a high-regulation society.’

This could be why the workplace has seen an increased casualisation from Gen Y, and why they have had more jobs per person than ever. Based on the current annual turnover rate of 15 per cent, the median length of time Australians have been with their employer is 3 years and 4 months. If this trend continues, Gen Y (who will live longer and work later in life) will average 17 employers across an estimated 5 careers in their lifetime. So this might explain why some business owners are reticent to hire any Gen Y-ers.

This all stems back to the fact that Gen Y CAN do these things. They’re ‘kiddults’, with delayed life responsibilities and different life goals. For instance, for Y-ers (57 per cent) and X-ers (48.5 per cent), the main saving goal for them in their 20s is/was holiday/travel; for the Boomers, it was a mortgage (46 per cent). The average age at first marriage is now 28 for women and 30 for men (compared to 22 and 24 respectively in 1982); and the average age of a first home buyer has increased from 27 in 1982 to early 30s today.

For us, this last figure is the most interesting – that we are delaying our first purchase, NOT cancelling it, contrary to what some are stating. Gen Y’s refusal to ‘compromise’, which is made possible by ready parent support, means for us that well located properties with owner occupier appeal will continue to be in demand long into the future. Your buyers in the future might just be older physically (but probably not mentally).


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