A lot of people will complain about youth, as does every generation. They say that millennials are too lazy and entitled. That their parents worked harder and they should be grateful.
That’s not really fair, though. Their parents weren’t in 100k of student debt, unemployment was not rampant, and automation wasn’t replacing them at unprecedented rates.
New graduates who enter the work force have done nothing wrong. They are certainly not lazy. They were simply given one path, one option in life: go to school, get a degree, and then you can get a job.
They spent all of this time, effort and money working towards this goal. The “promise” of succeeding in this path might have not been written out explicitly, but society gave them little choice.
The education system encouraged them to do so and their parents likely followed along.
Upon graduating they realized that this economic promise didn’t come to fruition so easily. Again, they did nothing wrong. The problem is in the framework and in the way our economic model incentivizes people.
The economy is largely controlled by companies. They have money and jobs. They decide whether or not to hire you. If these companies don’t need your skills, then you are out of luck.
This previous sentence may seem so matter-of-fact that it might not warrant a second glance.
But really, it’s the way we choose to see reality.
We are cycled through this education system with not much option and then are at the whim of profit-seeking companies to make a living.
These are the same companies who want to maximize efficiency and won’t blink twice to lay-off employees or restructure when ‘things aren’t going well.’
But it’s not the fault of the companies. They are simply operating in a world where maximizing profit is the incentive.
The system is broken.
The big assumption that is drilled into our heads during school is that people need to work for other people. That when you exit school, you get a job.
In the words of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus,
Are people born to be working for somebody else or born to do things they want? Without knowing anything, probably you’ll say no, people are not born to work for somebody else. That’s not how it works. When human beings came to this planet, they were not sending out job applications.
The financial system (including loans and credit) is of course centered around this model, that is, wealth is concentrated.
So, what’s the solution?
I don’t know, but Muhammad Yunus has an idea that’s shown some real progress. He is famous for leading the microcredit movement in Bangladesh and now he’s trying to flip this whole model on its head.
He says that instead of going through life expecting to get a job, rather, we should be job creators.
He believes everyone is an entrepreneur. He says don’t ask for a job, make your own.
This may seem like a bold statement, but it’s really not. It’s just contrarian.
For most of history we have been entrepreneurs. As hunters and gatherers we had to solve problems everyday (and if you’re reading this today, you made it pretty far!) We had to figure out how to feed ourselves. We were bakers, farmers, cobblers, blacksmiths. We had street stalls and restaurants and shops and offered our services.
Uganda ranks as the most entrepreneurial country in the world where 28% of people are entrepreneurs. That’s twice the number of the U.S.
Surprised? Perhaps your definition of entrepreneurship needs to be expanded.
If given a chance, we have the capacity for great creativity.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work for a company. Not at all. No individual could have been able to create the microprocessor or iPhone. We need lots of people and lots of companies to innovate.
The greater point is that people have options — job taker or job creator — but the system we have in place only fosters and really supports one path.
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