Saturday, June 8, 2013

Twentysomething Response 5: Multi-layer Iceberg About to Hit Millennials - so much for optimism

Good morning, Millennials, and welcome aboard Future Airlines Airbus 2000 with services to your future!

Subtle Depiction of Boomer's Response to Millennials
Taken during 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, how fitting? 

I'm only referring to the flight attendant script to indicate that the ride to the future will be bumpy. Ironically, the relationship that I share with the future resembles my tumultuous relationship with flying. I love and hate flying and the future as so much could happen: I could die or survive; I might throw up or take some pills to calm myself down, but what if there aren't any puke bags available? What if I'm stuck in a bad airline? As a spoiled Millennials I could only have the best, right? What if traffic control prevents us from landing and its been a twenty-hour flight? Aargh!

Unfortunately, researchers found that the future might be as bumpy or even more turbulent than the worst flights that doesn't end up in a crash. Different media sources have announced that members of the older generation hates us. There's a chance that "Boomer generation workers will never completely accept new colleagues who do not share their work ethic" (Myers & Sadaghiani, 2010, 228). Once we are committed to specific missions, our contrasting value on "work" may force us to "accommodate the demands of the workplace" (Myers & Sadaghiani, 2010, 228) and behave more similarly to Boomers. If we don't, we might be screwed. Just kidding! Where did my Millennial optimism go?
This might be a better portrayal of Boomer's response to Millennials, no?
However, a larger iceberg has hit or is about to hit us. Howe (1988) observes that a high disparity will occur between the "forgotten half" and adolescents who continue on to attain some form of postsecondary education, as a surge of demand for positions that require higher skills. Without any change, such as workforce basic skills education and apprenticeship programs, the U.S. will face a large group of "joblessness among the least skilled, accompanied by a chronic shortage of workers with advanced skills" (Howe, 1988, 30 as cited by Rosenbaum, 2010, 2). The U.S. lacks positive perceptions acquired by countries, such as Germany and Japan, that encourages eighteen-year-olds to hold responsible jobs. College-for-all campaign has also impacted society's, especially employer's, views on the adolescent population, causing a difficulty to resolve labor market dilemmas.

College-for-all has perpetuated a societal belief that college is the only yellow brick road leading to the Emerald City, more commonly known as success. In Indonesia, a country that has increasingly become Westernized with an emphasis on American-centered ideals, students flock to tutors, "success-guaranteed" courses, and even agents to attain entry to both local and international post-secondary schools. Similar to American high schools, Indonesian schools have "quietly and unofficially adopted a policy of encouraging all students to attend college" (Rosenbaum, 2001, 266). Teachers in both countries promote this campaign to avoid discouraging certain students or decrease their options (Rosenbaum, 2001). In Indonesia, this seemingly good intent, though, is not pertinent to all high school graduates. The campaign also lacks an effective system to ensure its success.

EMERGENCY! Not just for Millennials,
but Boomers  and Generation X as well
Common societal trends have shown that many Indonesian students perceive high school as being irrelevant to their future, when, in fact, it determines long term affects on the adolescents future. Furthermore, high school behavior are great indicators of later success (Rosenbaum, 2001, 272). Much like the U.S., Indonesian society stratifies incentives by spelling out clear benefits of attending college and less or none for others. The presence of discrepancies between high school and college lead to numerous students who are underprepared to apply, get accepted, attend, and complete college. More importantly, they fail to depict realistic demands of college to students (Rosenbaum, 2001).

Although most schools are yet to be equipped with guidance counselors and college counselors, the booming interest in college education has created the upsurge of college agents. A market that gained prominence in the affluent Indonesian community in the late 1980s has expanded to include clients from various socio-economic backgrounds. In recent years, high school students have became a flock of sheep that is directed by these agents to attend community colleges, when many are underprepared to enter postsecondary education and others are able to attain a seat at a prestigious Ivy, state school or liberal arts college. Vague depiction of life at postsecondary schools in other countries, as well as skewed portrayals of admission requirements, consequences, and cost have lead many to enter unsuitable colleges.

My sentiments exactly!
Lack of apprenticeship programs combined with high social stigma towards those who do not attend postsecondary education have resulted in high unemployment rate, delinquency, as well as stories of immense struggle at school. The ability to buy entry to a certain school has also made colleges only attainable to a specific group of adolescents. Indonesia, much like the U.S., faces a complex issue with multiple layers. For most Millennials, the road ahead will be a tough one, especially for those who are under equipped and lack financial resources.

Have a safe flight!


Myers, K. K., & Sadaghiani, K. (2010).  Millennials in the workplace:  A communication perspective on millennials’ organizational relationships and performance.  Journal of Business Psychology, 25, 225-238.

Rosenbaum, J. (2001).  Policy implications: Career paths for the forgotten half.  In J. Rosenbaum (Ed.), Beyond college for all: Career paths for the forgotten half (pp. 1-23; 265-282).  New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

TED Talks (double-edged sword?): 
What jobs would look like in the future -

All photos were taken by yours truly!

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