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Promotion Leads to Prevention in Youth Development


Some years ago, the US Department of Health and Human Services funded research entitled "PYD (Positive Youth Development) in the US." This report supported the idea of how "positive promotion of youth development" inherently leads to many sought after prevention results.

We here at the New Generation Leadership & Workforce Institute (NGLWI) have adopted the value of positive reinforcement that has yielded the results in youth that we all strive to witness. Through leadership training, work readiness & Life-skills assessment, social entrepreneurship and civic engagement activities, all culminating by a business plan competition, the NGLWI has created a platform that incubates innovation, fosters leadership and promotes social responsibility to our youth.

Our world is younger than it has been in over 100 years, with over 60% of the population UNDER the age of 30. With this new youthful vigor comes, new challenges, new objectives, new theologies, new strategies, and even a new workforce. The NGLWI, seeks to not only understand this new generation, but more importantly, understand how positive promotion of core values, positive reinforcement of innovation and positive reaffirmation of hope and excellence leads to the prevention of the many pitfalls that are commonplace amongst our youth.

The NGLWI this year has turned its attention to the trends of our new generation, and has inculcated into its curriculum the very tools and learning principles that are second nature to this "Digital Native." This 'New worker,' this 'new generation,' sees the world in ways that far exceed that of its successor. Thus, with a heightened focus on technology, science and math, mixed with the value of social responsibility and civic engagement, the NGLWI, is a place where seeds of positive excellence will be planted in the hearts and minds of our new leaders, new scientists & new volunteers.

The New Generation Leadership and Workforce Institute don't teach our youth to ask why, instead, we encourage them to ask "Why Not"?

FYI: Who is This New Generation?

They have financial smarts. After witnessing the financial insecurity that beset earlier generations stung by layoffs and the dot-com bust, today's newest entrants into the workforce are generally savvy when it comes to money and savings. They care about such benefits as 401(k) retirement plans.

Thirty-seven percent of Gen Yers expect to start saving for retirement before they reach 25, with 46% of those already working indicating so, according to a September survey by Purchase, N.Y.-based Diversified Investment Advisors.
And 49% say retirement benefits are a very important factor in their job choices. Among those eligible, 70% of the Gen Y respondents contribute to their 401(k) plan.

  • Work-life balance isn't just a buzz word. Unlike boomers who tend to put a high priority on career, today's youngest workers are more interested in making their jobs accommodate their family and personal lives. They want jobs with flexibility, telecommuting options and the ability to go part time or leave the workforce temporarily when children are in the picture.
  • Change, change, change. Generation Yers don't expect to stay in a job, or even a career, for too long they've seen the scandals that imploded Enron and Arthur Andersen, and they're skeptical when it comes to such concepts as employee loyalty.
  • They don't like to stay too long on any one assignment. This is a generation of multitaskers, and they can juggle
    e-mail on their BlackBerrys while talking on cellphones while trolling online.

And they believe in their own self worth and value enough that they're not shy about trying to change the companies they work for. That compares somewhat with Gen X, a generation born from the mid- 1960s to the late-1970s, known for its independent thinking, addiction to change and emphasis on family.

Conflicts over casual dress

In the workplace, conflict and resentment can arise over a host of issues, even seemingly innocuous subjects such as appearance, as a generation used to casual fare such as flip-flops, tattoos and capri pants finds more traditional attire is required at the office.

And then there's Gen Y's total comfort with technology. While boomers may expect a phone call or inperson meeting on important topics, younger workers may prefer virtual problem solving.

Conflict can also flare up over management style. Unlike previous generations who've in large part grown accustomed to the annual review, Gen Yers have grown up getting constant feedback and recognition from teachers, parents and coaches and can resent it or feel lost if communication from bosses isn't more regular.

"The millennium generation has been brought up in the most child-centered generation ever. They've been programmed and nurtured," says Cathy O'Neill, senior vice president at career management company Lee Hecht Harrison in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. "Their expectations are different. The millennial expects to be told how they're doing."

Matt Berkley, a writer at St. Louis Small Business Monthly, says many of his generation have traveled and had many enriching experiences, so they may clash with older generations they see as competition or not as skilled. "We're surprised we have to work for our money. We want the corner office right away," he says. "It seems like our parents just groomed us. Anything is possible. We had karate class, soccer practice, everything. But they deprived us of social skills. They don't treat older employees as well as they should."

Employers are examining new ways to recruit and retain and trying to sell younger workers on their workplace flexibility and other qualities generally attractive to Gen Y.

Perks and recruitment

Aflac, an insurer based in Columbus, Ga., is highlighting such perks as time off given as awards, flexible work schedules and recognition.

Xerox is stepping up recruitment of students at "core colleges," which is how the company refers to universities that have the kind of talent Xerox needs. For example, the Rochester Institute of Technology is a core school for Xerox recruiting because it has a strong engineering and printing sciences programs. Others include Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois and Cornell University.

Xerox is using the slogan "Express Yourself" as a way to describe its culture to recruits. The hope is that the slogan will appeal to Gen Y's desire to develop solutions and change. Recruiters also point out the importance of diversity at the company; Gen Y is one of the most diverse demographic groups one out of three is a minority.

"(Gen Y) is very important," says Joe Hammill, director of talent acquisition. "Xerox and other Fortunetype companies view this emerging workforce as the future of our organization."