Dismantling a Myth

Some months ago I wanted to conduct some research into the general mood of Australians (something I have written about several times in recent years) between the generations.

I came up with the idea of doing a short stint as a ride-sharing driver to be able to gather data and hopefully receive a wide representative view of my question.

First of all the majority of respondents were only too happy to express their personal views and must say I encountered good grace and some humour.

In terms of the ratio between younger and older members of the public surveyed one would have to say there was a greater number of younger people who gave their views due to their high use of the service.

I was at pains to ensure that the question posed was the same to both sets of demographics.

“How do you view the future and how can you play your part in it”?

Please find below my findings:

I have selected three main themes from the responses of both groups:

Older Respondents

1 “The race to retirement cannot be over soon enough”!

2 Optimism in the future for Australia is declining with little confidence in those who will follow have the skills to make it work.

3 They showed minimum interest in transferring their skills by means of mentoring/coaching.

Younger Respondents

1 “Great opportunities are available to us but we understand there will be difficulties along the way”.

2 “We want a more equitable and socially responsible society”.

3 “Bring on the mentoring/coaching, engagement, we know we are going to need it”.

I recognise this sample is very small and might contain some motherhood statements and aspirational feelings but the underlying sentiments were very clear.

The gulf between the generations seems unbridgeable and only in very limited circumstances can it be crossed.

The relentless crusade being waged by our media to discredit the next generation has certainly been effective in cementing a mindset of negativity in the public’s perception.

Time is running out to find some common ground (2023- baby-boomers exit the workforce) before we lose essential resources and wisdom able to contribute to help form our future leaders.

From a personal point of view, I am not at surprised by these findings, I engage with many younger people and whilst I do not agree with every direction and pathway they decide to take. It is nonsensical and mean-spirited to write them off, it displays our country as short-sighted.

As we have witnessed from history the transition from one generation to another has always been problematical and maybe it is, in this case, it will all work out. Somehow in this situation, the forces at play are much more divisive.

The talent that is emerging through our children and young people is astonishing albeit there are certainly gaps and skills where they will need guidance. My question who and how is this going to be achieved this if we allow this divide of this lack of respect to continue.

Ken Wood

People Specialist

18th October 2018