Whether you call us Generation Y, Millennials, Net Gen, or Echo Boomers we are a different generation by definition. We account for 20% of the United States’ population and have a lot to offer the workforce. We are independent, tolerant, and optimistic about the future. We grew up with parents who were actively involved in our upbringing, gave us a sense of empowerment, and made us feel that we could accomplish anything that we put our minds to. We are expressive, quick and active learners, skilled multitaskers, tolerant of others’ differences, and grew up seeing huge strides in technology.  Last but not least, we are the most educated generation yet (NAS, 2006)!

As a member of the Generation Y group, it is interesting to open up my HR magazines and e-mails and read articles about generational differences in education and employment. Generation Y is often criticized because they expect instant gratification and feel entitled to have a job upon graduating from college. Consider these facts about Generation Y (NAS, 2006):

  • It’s not just the wealthy Gen Y’s that go to college anymore, it’s the norm!
  • 64 percent of women and 60 percent of men are attending college after high school
  • Asian women account for the highest educated group of the Generation Y’s
  • Greater college attendance rates have created more competition for Generation Y’s – in fact, the bachelor’s degree has become the minimum requirement for most positions
  • 16 percent of Generation Y’s attend graduate school and feel that they need to in order to attain their desired position.
  • Nearly 54 percent of Generation Y’s move home upon graduating from college
  • The average salary for Generation Y upon graduating from college is $39,500

As you might see from the above statistics, Generation Y has a lot of pressure to attain a higher education and maintain that competitive edge. Just recently, I was discussing education with my aunt who is of the Baby Boomer Generation; she recalled the bachelor’s degree being the key to a successful future. Upon graduating from college she was able to quickly secure a position with a competitive salary and benefits, and saw no point whatsoever in attending graduate school. She reflected on her industry as it stands now. Apparently, there are two ways to be a competitive candidate in her industry:

  • You either have a lot of experience 15+ years
  • You have a master’s degree

Based on these points, Generation Y would be of the group who would likely need a master’s degree to enter the industry.

No doubt, education has shifted the desired characteristics of the workforce.  Whether we need a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, this certification or that license, Generation Y is tackling it head-on and maintaining a positive attitude along the way.  We love to learn, are career-minded, and want to make a contribution in what we do!

Daniél C. Kimlinger, MHA, PHR
Human Resources

NAS (2006). Generation Y: The Millennials – Ready or Not, Here They Come. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/2607132/GENERATION-Y-THE-MILLENNIALS