Generation Y still wants it all

Apr 15 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

American college graduates are worried they are set to face a tougher jobs market this year, with two-thirds concerned that the fragile state of the economy will make it much harder for them to get on the career ladder.

But, in true Generation Y style, three quarters say this new environment will in no way compromise their demands when it comes to salary, being able to work flexibly, accessing training, being sent on foreign assignments and not working more than 40 hours a week.

The vast majority of the more than 400 graduates polled, more than eight out of 10, said they would still be looking for a job that offered a good salary and benefits package, with health insurance as a given.

More than two thirds said it would need to be somewhere that offered the prospect of "interesting and challenging work".

More than half also wanted a workplace with "a social atmosphere and camaraderie with colleagues" as well as a manager prepared to mentor and coach them.

More than four out of 10 said they would be looking for a firm that offered flexible hours, while around a third said the organisation's reputation as an employer would temper their choice, with much the same number looking for opportunities to travel.

Almost half said they expected to work fewer than 40 hours per week, while more than four out of 10 said they were concerned that would not be able to keep up with interests outside of work, with a similar proportion concerned they would be overworked by their employers.

Just a quarter said they would be prepared to take a reality check because of the changing economic conditions, with four out of 10 accepting that they might need to broaden their search by industry or skill area.

A similar percentage said they would be prepared to look for a job in a different city, dropping to fewer than a third who would be prepared to take a lower salary.

Slightly more than a quarter would compromise by accepting a longer commute, with 15 per cent reckoning they would have to lower themselves to "accept the first job offer".

And, surprisingly considered the third who wanted the opportunity to travel, just nine per cent said they would be prepared to look for a job in a different country.

"Generation Y is entering the workforce with strong values and demands that employers haven't had to address with previous generations," said David Smith, managing director of Accenture's talent and organisation performance practice in North America.

"To be relevant to these job seekers, employers must find ways to satisfy their needs for balance, fun, mentoring and opportunities to grow and be challenged," he added.

It was a similar picture in the UK, where more than 300 students were questioned.

Of these, nearly six out of 10 were concerned that a weakening economy would result in fewer jobs being available upon graduation.

More than two-thirds said that they have not yet found a post-graduation job, while more than a third said they would be graduating with student loans totalling more than £15,000 and expected to live with parents or family after graduating.

Yet, again, just 17 per cent said the tougher conditions would lead them to compromise their job requirements.

Much as in the U.S, remuneration, salary and "interesting and challenging" work topped their "most wanted" list.

But nearly half said they would want some form of formal training, with 46 per cent looking for a manager who could mentor and coach them and 44 per cent wanting the option of working flexibly.