Next Generation Workforce: Concern or Opportunity

How much should we worry about the next generation manufacturing workforce? An email came through late last week from an organization that I’d heard of but never had any dealings with—Junior Achievement. Press release was titled, “Labor Day Blues: Three-in-Four Parents and Teens Concerned Global Competition and Automation will Make it Difficult for Next Generation to Have a Successful Job/Career”.

A new survey from Junior Achievement USA (JA) shows that 77 percent of parents are “concerned” about their children’s ability to have a successful job or career as adults in light of global competition and automation. The same percentage (77%) of teens said they share similar concerns about having a successful job or career in the future because of global competition and automation. The survey of 1,204 parents of school-aged students and 1,000 teens was conducted by ORC International for JA.

So I thought, this is interesting, but is it new? My parents were worried about my future employability when I graduated from high school a long, long time ago. I probably had some concern about my kids, but I’m generally more optimistic and have higher expectations, I guess, than others. (They are both doing well.)

Just wondered if they had run this survey every year for the past 50 would there be any trend? Or, are they just rushing to capitalize on the current state of media who relishes negative news?

Then I thought about some (not all) parents I run into through my soccer work. I’ve met the “helicopter parent”. They have kids who referee soccer, too. I’d imagine parents with that mindset would be concerned—probably for the rest of their lives.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t let my optimism get in the way of preparation. The JA CEO is on the right track here.

“Education and skills are going to be critical for the next generation’s success in an ever-changing workplace,” said Jack Kosakowski, CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “Many of the entry-level jobs we know today won’t be around in the next decade, and many of the jobs of tomorrow haven’t even been conceived of yet. It’s important we encourage our young people to explore post-secondary education, whether that be a university, community college, or a technical or trade school. Having some level of technical training is going to be critical for future career success. A high school diploma or GED just won’t be enough for many jobs.”

The Future Workforce Survey

In the survey, nearly half (45%) of parents said that they were “extremely or very” concerned about their children’s prospects for future employment, while almost as many teens (40%) had the same level of concern.

The survey was conducted in conjunction with the fall rollout of Junior Achievement’s work- and career-readiness programs. For more detail on these and other JA programs, visit JA’s programs page.

Methodology

This report presents the findings of ORC International’s Online and Youth CARAVAN surveys conducted among a sample of 1,204 parents of school-aged children and 1,000 13-17 year- olds.  These surveys were conducted live from June 29 to July 6, 2017, for the parents’ portion and from July 11 to July 16, 2017, for the teens’ portion.

Respondents for this survey are selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls.  Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated.  All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question-wording and response options.

About JA

Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. Today, JA reaches 4.8 million students per year in 109 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.6 million students served by operations in more than 100 countries worldwide.

–Gary Mintchell

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