In the late 1980s, I attended a lecture given by Charles Handy in which he talked about the portfolio career; the idea that a combination of technology and changing social norms would mean that the majority of us would have working lives that were quite different from the then pattern. That even the concept of a career would change. That working lives would last longer and be shaped by an unfolding mixture of part-time, temporary, freelance and full time work. That we would need to think less about careers and more about skills, less about organisations and more about individual purpose. Most of us in the audience did not believe him.(Hangs head in shame.) We were wrong.
And this is the world that our Generation Z, in their mid 20s, live in. They are at the transition point between an educational/family structure built by a previous generation and a working world with some very different paths. And surrounded by a sometimes quite narcissistic social culture which sends loud persistent messages about success and failure. We expect them to be both adults and children simultaneously in some ways, to know what they don’t yet know and we may not know either. Work and life can seem both more complicated and less constrained for these young adults looking in from the outside.yet we also see a growth in concerns about mental resilience and purpose for many of them..
I offer a simple three step process to support young adults at the beginning of their career choices: