The Gen Y revolution that may never come

Andrew Hill:

It is always irritating to be stereotyped, but it must be particularly galling for cash-strapped, educated members of “Generation Y” to be told by demographers, marketers and futurologists that they have to get out and shake up management and the world of work.

Globally, under-30s may be “irreverent, change-seeking, challenging, better informed, mobile, and connected”, as Moisés Naím describes them in his new book, The End of Power. But the FT’s “Class of the Crunch” series has underlined that, in Britain at least, recent graduates are paying more for education and housing and earning less than their predecessors. Changing the world of work is the last thing on most of their minds: they have to get into it first.

Once there, new recruits find the reality of long hours at lean organisations that make few concessions to inexperience a shock, after years of cosseting by their baby boomer parents. London Business School’s Lynda Gratton details the challenges ahead in her book The Shift. She reprimanded an audience of older executives at the recent FT Innovate conference for giving young employees such “crap-awful work”.