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Do parents of millennials really know what their children do for work?

It appears that the goals of millennials are different to those of their parents

According to a LinkedIn study in November 2016, which was conducted to coincide with the company’s global annual Bring In Your Parents Day, many parents admit to not comprehending some of today’s leading roles.

80% admitted a lack of understanding of the role of user interface (UI) designer, for example, while 72% admitted to not understanding the role of data scientist and 67% the role of social media manager. Additionally, 49% of the parents questioned stated that they would not feel confident carrying out their child’s job, with 69% citing the main reason as a lack of understanding of the role.

Parents also felt that modern workplaces could provide more opportunities for their children; for example, 56% of mothers felt that their daughters would have greater scope to advance in their careers.

Are 21st century jobs really so different? Technology has certainly moved on in recent years, allowing a more flexible way of working, learning, and building up and interacting with networks. Employees can create and contribute to blogs, access a wealth of information almost immediately, and take part in a wide range of online training, whilst the use of Skype, social media and so forth has transformed communication.

Such changes have driven a shift away from the traditional nine-to-five working day, with more possibility to work flexibly and/or remotely.

Millennial children have grown up with, and had the chance to keep pace with, this fast-changing technology. Ernst & Young (2013) found that of three groups they examined – millennials/generation Y, generation X, and baby boomers – millennials were considered the more ‘tech savvy’. Additionally, millennials scored most highly on measures of collaboration and adaptability – traits that reflect today’s more varied and flexible roles.

Aside from the variety of new roles available, traditional jobs have evolved over the decades. Some roles may appear, from their titles, not to have changed at all; however, the components and way in which a role is carried out can be vastly different.

It appears that the goals of millennials are different to those of their parents. A study carried out by APD Research Institute (Evolution of Work, 2016) found that younger workers place greater emphasis on achieving fulfilment from their work. This could be due to a wider range opportunities, or perhaps the realisation that working life will probably be longer than historically typical; of those taking part, 60% felt that typical retirement age would, in time, cease to exist.

Millennials also report that their jobs are not central to their lives, as perhaps they were in decades past. More opportunities exist nowadays to gain additional experience and to fulfil their personal goals; for example, many employees volunteer alongside their roles and more and more companies are encouraging and supporting employees in their participation in volunteering activities.

It is also not unusual for individuals today to have more than one type of paid employment, whether to broaden their experience or to boost their income.

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