World Bank Chief: The World May Lose a Generation
April 17, 2011
“It’s probably too much to say that it’s a jobless recovery, but it’s certainly a recovery with not enough jobs… Especially because of youth unemployment… There is now a risk that this will be turned into a life sentence, and that there is a possibility of a lost generation,” said Robert Zoellick, as quoted by a recent BBC article (emphasis added).
Mr. Zoellick was using the phrase with poorer nations in mind, but I’m sure that he’d agree that this problem affects all nations in one way or another.
The best mathematicians, philosophers, artists, even chessmasters, are all thought to hit their primes in their twenties and thirties. The minds of twenty and thirty year olds have powered the innovation in our world for thousands of years. However, the definition of “young” has changed.
What was once a person in his prime is now considered to be a “young” person without “experience.” I have a news flash for anyone in school – it takes experience to get experience. Look around at job listings online. Over 90% of the listings I’ve seen require at least 3 years of experience. What’s going to happen with the huge influx of young people, without any of this so called “experience?”
Paying for College
I know a lot of people my age who had to pay their own way through college. Their parents’ rationale was “I paid for my college, so you should pay for yours.” What these parents refuse to acknowledge is that they paid their way through college on tips from the restaurant – we pay our way through college with huge amounts of unforgivable debt that we’re going to pay back when we magically get that comfy, layoff-proof job after graduation.
Other parents simply don’t have the savings to spend on education for their children. But don’t be sympathetic for these parents, they’re just broke because they spent it already. They had about 20 years worth of advance warning, so anyone who’s suddenly broke when it’s time to pay for college has no excuse.
My generation is going to have to start saving for our kids’ college before we’re done paying off our own. And unless something drastic changes, education for our kids will cost more than double what it costs for us today.
We are at risk of losing a generation – my generation. We can’t get jobs, and the jobs we do get are menial. We’re in our prime, being forced to do the dumbest jobs, waiting a long, motionless line for something better. Historically, people my age ran the world, we were the chiefs of our village, the leaders and innovators. But as life expectancy grew, so did the definition of “young.”
The real change that’s happened is a shift in power away from people in their 20s and 30s. I’ve heard a lot of talk about class warfare this, class warfare that, but the real problem is generational warfare, whose existence is acknowledged by even the World Bank Chief.
I’m not going to stand around while the world “loses” me and the rest of my generation. I hope I’m not alone.