The reality is, however, that successive generations are the product of the environment they were born into and spend their formative years. This is particularly evident as the value of education becomes increasingly important. As the importance of education increases so too does the pressure on education providers to produce a quality product, so much so that teaching and learning practices are continually evolving to meet these demands. Students are now encouraged and nurtured to develop ways of creative and independent thinking, problem solving and critical analysis. Even before children start formal education, playgroups and childcare centres are fostering a culture of 'play-based learning' encouraging imaginative and creative play, utilising both the left and right sides of their brain. Our youth is experiencing a contemporary learning environment which encourages challenging the status quo - questioning the who, what, where, why and how.
However, our workplaces have not evolved in the same way. Entry level jobs prescribe how to do a job, where and when to do it and why. The workplace experience is a total discord to the empowering educational experience Gen Y are provided to foster innovative thinking. Organisations have not adapted to capture the new skills and thought processes which accompany Gen Y (and future generations) into the workplace. Job roles have remained stagnant and thwart any potential productivity gains attached to the skills and abilities of younger generations (which is critical in replacing a large, ageing workforce). Critically, Gen Y are not round pegs to fit into round holes left vacant by obsolete jobs or retired baby boomers. While jobs have evolved as a response to the demands of new technologies and related opportunities; workplaces, structures and job descriptions have not. Maintaining the historic trend and status quo attached to job design and workplace hierarchies inhibits the potential attached to the future supply of labour and their associated educational asset. Evolution needs to occur concurrently - education, jobs, job design, workplace structure and culture.
While the education system appears to be preparing our future generations for the changing needs of an economy transitioning from an industrial-based economy to a knowledge, service based one, our workplaces appears to be failing to keep pace with the opportunities attached to our successive generations. The focus should be on achieving both contemporary educational outcomes and contemporary, productive workplaces rather than retrofitting Gen Y to out-dated workplace practices.