We live in an age when terror lurks, disasters seem to be pervasive and people posting on social media would have us believe the world is ending or going mad. And yet, as we gear up for Thanksgiving, it is appropriate to focus on the good in our lives and why millennials and others have so many reasons to be optimistic, even as a tumultuous 2017 winds down. Here are my top 5:
1. Living Longer and Healthier: This generation will benefit more than most others in human history from scientific advances that have the power to vastly improve lives and health. Research has made certain forms of cancer nearly curable and gene therapy and editing is making possible what was once thought to be the stuff of science fiction. A decade ago, it was hard to imagine that scientists would be able to rapidly edit genes for certain diseases out of the human DNA code.
2. Job Growth: The job market is strong for college graduates. Exciting opportunities abound in new industries and at companies that are disrupting the way business has traditionally been done. The overall unemployment rate is well below 5% and for college graduates, it’s 2.5%, so there continues to be Return on Investment for those who pursue higher education.
3. Marketable Skills: Millennials have a great advantage over others in the job market. They understand technology and have been marketing themselves and creating a distinctive personal brand on social media for years. While technology can be both a blessing and a curse (recent studies have suggested that widespread use of smartphones can decrease mental acuity), but when it comes to core competencies employers seek, just about every millennial possesses these skills.
4. Strong Values, Meaningful Careers: Research shows that the digital generation born after the early 1980s values job fulfillment over financial reward. This generation needs to feel their work has a strong economic or social purpose. While this may mean that employers will have to work harder to engage employees, this will also translate into a future workforce filled with dedicated people who care deeply about what they do and about building infrastructure for a successful society.
5. Closing the Gender Gap: While gender equality on the home and work fronts has not yet been achieved, a recent report indicated that millennial women are more positive about their ability to grow in their careers compared to older generations. This group also perceives more equality in professional development and is more positive than Baby Boomers in terms of fair pay, the treatment of women, and overall gender equality. The sense of hope that positive change is in the air should make all of us grateful and optimistic about the future.
While it seems that our communities, cities and the world are abounding with bad news, there’s still plenty to appreciate as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year.
Alan Kadish, M.D. is President of the Touro College and University System, the largest Jewish-sponsored educational institution in the United States. The system encompasses approximately 18,000 students across 30 campuses and locations in four countries. Under his leadership, Touro provides educational opportunities and career paths ranging from liberal arts to law, medicine, dentistry and health sciences to technology, business, Jewish studies, education and more. Follow Dr. Kadish at https://twitter.com/DrKadish