“There are no jobs for the young, and there’s no hope. We’re creating a lost generation”. We are bombarded daily with attitudes like this. We have a generation led to believe by politicians that getting a degree is a passport to a well paid job. And now expectations are not being met. Where has it all gone wrong! And as for those without degrees, they may as well give up because they will never work. Try telling that to Sir Richard Branson or Lord Sugar! The endless stream of negative outpourings from commentators on radio, television and the press is incredibly debilitating. This affects not only those directly involved but it seriously adds to the despair of the nation.
In this climate it is no wonder that many of our brightest young people have become demoralised and are losing hope.
Well what can we do about it? Is there a parallel here with another generation? Don’t we hear the same about the over fifties? They are condemned to the “no hope” heap as well. So the head shakers would have us believe we not only have a “lost generation” of youth but at the other end of the age scale we have a lost generation of experience as well. If they were right we would indeed be truly doomed.
But let us look at where we really are. We have a huge pool of young enthusiastic and well qualified people just waiting to have something to be enthusiastic about. And we have an older generation with a life time of experience. The old have run businesses, been managers, sat in front of finance directors and banks to make the case for business start ups and expansions. They have sold the product of their labours to every corner of the world. This huge amount of experience is just sitting there waiting to be tapped. And many of these “older people” still have as much energy, drive, and enthusiasm they had when young. On retirement many start all over again by setting up small businesses to keep their active minds occupied. And for the lucky ones it is not necessary to make lots of money, it is just to help provide the little extras in life and to keep them in touch with the world they once helped to run.
So is there an opportunity to help the enthusiastic young build success by calling on the experience of the old? Is there an opportunity to get the oldies firing on all cylinders again? Can both ends of the age spectrum work in harmony?
The Prince’s Trust and its legion of volunteers does fabulous work with the young in helping them to engage and fulfil their potential. But to help generate the new businesses Britain so desperately needs and to generate the essential growth is something more tangible needed? Is there a need for a real life variant of “The Apprentice”? Should the experienced oldies take a step further and become mentoring directors in fledgling companies which might well have great ideas but little experience. Should they take a financial stake by providing or guaranteeing a proportion of the set up capital required? This would demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the business to give the best possible chance of success. And with the reassurance of some experience in the background how could banks and other funding agencies not back new start ups? Over time the mentoring director’s share could be sold back to the other younger directors, but who knows they might all get on so well across the generational gap that the situation would never arise.
Is this just one small way the way baby boomers could help the next generation create a better economic future for their children than we have for ours?
And more important this would this give them some much needed hope.