The world is constantly in flux, and there is now a new power shift brought about by a new generation of global citizens. Millennials, the generational demographic cohort born between 1981 and 1996, and so often mislabelled as lazy or self-entitled, are eager to embark on endeavours to shape the future. In terms of the growing interdependence of the world’s economies, cultures, and populations, aka globalisation, millennials try to use its advantages and make them suitable for everyone. Here are five ways how:
Mission-driven millennials represent the core of a global movement for doing well in the world around us. Dr. Luke Pittaway, professor of entrepreneurship for Ohio University College of Business Copeland, says, “Millennials are very social value-conscious. They are not typically interested in starting just any small business. For them, the venture must have an impact on society and have a social and local economic value beyond simply providing a living.”
For instance, James Thuch Madhier, from South Sudan, is the founder of The Rainmaker Enterprise. Using a solar-powered pump and well, he will build a farm with micro drip irrigation to grow livestock feed and collect water. These will then be sold to family farmers in the north-western city of Wau at modest prices to help them nourish their livestock in the dry season, increase livestock sale prices, and reduce resource scarcity and conflict in the region.
Madhier was clear that this initiative was not a charity, but a means to create a new local economy. “Access to multiple safe, efficient, and sustainable water sources creates an infrastructure that leads to durable peace among communities that are otherwise engaged in water-related conflicts,” he said.
The new economy has disrupted countless industries. Production is dematerialised, and the global economy transitions to a ‘knowledge economy’. Systems of health, transportation, communication, production, amongst others, are undergoing rapid transformation. Managing that change requires a new model of education designed for new workforce needs.
According to research conducted by Lawrence Katz of Harvard University and Alan Krueger at Princeton University, most of the jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were for positions outside the traditional nine-to-five. Besides, companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook are focusing more on whether a candidate has hard skills than if a candidate has a degree.
There are several types of workforce-related educational experiences older millennials can provide to younger millennials or the generation behind them and vice versa. These include job shadowing, networking events, mentorship programmes, skills competitions, apprenticeships, and forming partnerships with universities.
Negative effects of globalisation will have a disproportionate impact on some populations. Millennials can wield power to spark conversation to improve outcomes for everyone.
For instance, in 2014, Global Citizen partnered with the World Bank Youth Network to host End Poverty 2030: Millennials take on the challenge in Washington, D.C. The event focused on the crucial role millennials play in the fight to stop extreme poverty and featured a short film created by award-winning film writer and director Richard Curtis. Over 1,000 people, including Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, attended the event while thousands more watched.
The UN climate change summit that was held in December 2018 began with a warning that today’s generation is the last that can prevent catastrophic global warming, as well as the first to be suffering its impacts. Young people do consider climate change to be the world’s most serious issue, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Shaper Survey. 48.8 percent of those surveyed (31,000 millennials from 186 countries and territories) chose ‘climate change/destruction of nature’ as their primary concern.
UNC student Erin Hiatt, for example, has proposed a “Cash for Clunkers” spin-off programme for families to unload old, inefficient household supplies in return for financial rewards. This and other examples suggest that millennials are more likely to tackle the problem through individual initiative and grassroots action, rather than employ a heavy-handed bureaucratic approach. They pave the way for a more sustainable and more eco-friendly society but choose to go another path than other generations.
In some instances, globalisation has also led to the rise of protectionism and nationalist politics. Hence, the next generation of business leaders and officials needs to discover a new way of approaching it that recognises the insecurity many people experience.
To reap globalisation’s rewards while minimising its pain, two key approaches must be embraced. Angel Serna, Zurich Insurance Group’s Head of International and Swiss Public Affairs, explains: “First, place sustainability at the heart of the organisation. We must do business in a way that safeguards the future of the organisation and society. Second, act as a trusted local player. The current geopolitical climate and protectionist sentiment renders a one-size-fits-all approach ineffective. Businesses can be global but must demonstrate local understanding, sensitivity and value.”
Building sustainable local and regional systems is one of the ways millennials have taken the lead in creating environments so that everyone feels secure enough at home to remain open to the world at large. Ghana’s Decent Work Program is an example of a place-based approach that increased employment and growth.
There is no question that a new world order is upon us. Yet millennials have been acting as the torch bearers of change, fuelled by the desire to leave a positive impact on society and the world at large. As we confront the challenges and opportunities afforded by limitless cross-border movement and global digital communication, we move forward into the future with a sense of hope.
“When looking for new employees, young professionals between the age of 23 to 38 proof to be strong contenders for various positions throughout all corporate hierarchy levels”, explains Dr. Joana Baetz, Head of Human Resources at Rhenus Air & Ocean. “Their extensive digital know-how and solid teamwork skills help to bridge between generations. Additionally, Millenials always opt for self-improvement and value feedback to increase their knowledge. By passing on this assembly of information to their colleagues, they construct a connected and innovative work culture which results in a company's digital competitiveness and enables it to compete globally,” she concludes.
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