Prof in CBC Documentary on Youth Employment

January 17, 2013 - In the News

Business professor Sean Lyons will appear in a documentary premiering this month on CBC Television. Generation Jobless airs Jan. 31 at 9 p.m. on the CBC program Doc Zone.

The documentary explores the reasons for and implications of Canada’s high unemployment rate among youth and new college and university graduates. It also looks at solutions, here and abroad.

Lyons was interviewed because of his expertise on the “millennial generation” born after 1980. An organizational behaviour specialist, he studies intergenerational differences in work values and attitudes, and the impact on workplace dynamics and managing people.

“I spoke about the inflation of expectations among today’s students and the challenges they face in meeting those expectations once they hit the job market,” Lyons says.

He adds that, while daunting, the challenges facing today’s graduates are no worse than those encountered by previous generations.

“The issue is that their expectations for success are greater and based on an outdated estimation of the career benefits of an undergraduate degree. In simple terms, an undergraduate degree does not guarantee a good career in the future; it is the bare minimum requirement for the type of career many graduates are seeking.”

In a 2011 study, Lyons found millennials expect to see their wages climb by as much as 60 per cent over their starting salary within five years, while boomers and mature workers expect wage increases more in line with the Canadian average of about three per cent a year.

His research has found other beliefs among millennials, including the following: six-figure incomes are normal, although only about four per cent of Canadians earn more than $100,000; it’s acceptable to change jobs often; and they will jump right to the top of the corporate ladder.

Lyons says parents, teachers and employers perpetuate students’ misperceptions about opportunities and salaries.

Doc Zone is CBC’s flagship documentary series exploring and expanding on major issues. It airs Thursdays at 9 p.m.

A shorter version of the documentary, including Lyons, will also appear on CBC’s website.

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