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Recruitment is still active for young entrants Back  
Generation Y are our young Graduates of 2001, our young leaders of tomorrow and our young adults who are unemployed. Wendy Chin examines what lies ahead for them.
The term Generation Y refers to the young adult population which was born after 1976. Being highly technologically literate, extremely confident and having strong opinions on their ideal career path characterize this population. Until most recently, Generation Y knew only uninterrupted prosperity and economic growth. Furthermore, they witnessed graduates of 2000 demand unrealistic salaries, multiple job offers, stock options and even sign on bonuses. Unfortunately, the real world took a terrible turn of events with the slowdown in the markets, the dot.com bomb and September 11th. As a result, the high demand for the class of 2001 no longer exists.

Upon reflection over the past twelve months, who would have predicted the occurrences of 2001? In 2000, the OECD produced a study suggesting that Ireland would continue to have prosperous growth until at least 2005. And, in fact, prosperity still continues today; however, it is not at the pace that we had anticipated. With the slowing of the economy and the numerous ‘events’ of 2001, recruitment within Ireland for the past year was sporadic within some sectors while consistent in others. With the closure of many technology companies across Ireland, staff within these sectors were most severely impacted. As a result, recruitment for technology professionals in 2001 was not as active as it had been in previous years. In addition, 2001 was a year when technology professionals for the first time in several years, returned to more traditional and stable sectors such as financial services and the civil service.

While the demand for technology professionals decreased, the demand for accounting and financial service professionals remained consistent during 2001. In particular, demand for financial services staff and for part-qualified accountants with two to three years experience was exceptionally high. Entry-level candidates with degrees in accounting or finance were in great demand for the first half of the year, however this demand plummeted over the summer. Likewise, the senior-end of the market was active up to the summer, and subsequently fell for the second half of the year.

During the dot.com boom, Generation Ys changed jobs frequently, took short-term views on their careers and sometimes quit their jobs without notice. Furthermore, Generation Ys often had different expectations than their employers. In the December 2001 issue of the Journal of Property Management, Nancy Pekala in ‘Conquering the Generational Divide’ suggests, ‘Generation Ys are generally perceived as having a sense of entitlement and wanting opportunities handed to them.’

So, what’s next for Generation Y? The September 3, 2001 issue of U.S News and World Report suggests, ‘The cooling economy may force Generation Ys to work harder and expect less’. Further, it also states that ‘workers ages 20 to 24 have dropped out of the workforce faster than any other age group’. So, will the economic slowdown shake the confidence levels of Generation Ys? Will this population take a longer-term view on employment, particularly when so many people, and perhaps even their parents may have been laid off? Will Generations Ys still tend to change jobs as often as before? Will this young population still have as high expectations from their employers? And finally, will Ireland experience an increase in emigration, or possibly another ‘brain drain’?

As the second part of 2001 demonstrates, the demand for entry-level staff will remain low. As a result, Generation Ys will not have the luxury to be over-selective when choosing their first job, since fewer choices exist. Furthermore, Generations Ys will need to take a longer-term view on their careers. Both Generations Ys and employers should consider utilizing the contract option. ‘Try before you buy’ is an excellent alternative to hiring staff; it allows both the employee and employer to determine whether or not a fit exists. Both clients and candidates prefer the contract route simply because both sides are under no obligation if it does not work out. Additionally, contracting gives Generations Ys a way to build on their experience, so when that next opportunity arises, he or she will be able to ‘hit the ground running’. The message is Generation Ys need to re-align their expectations with market realities. Those dream jobs are out there; it may just take longer and a lot harder to get there!

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