We all have a vested interest in the millennials, or we should. They are the future of our businesses, nonprofits, and institutions. Therefore, we all have a shared responsibility to invest in their lives and to inspire them onto greatness.
Catherine Newhouse writing in Christianity Today speaks to the particular dangers faced by the noncollege-bound young adults. Her research, coupled with the work of sociologist Christian Smith (author of Souls in Transition, a book about the spiritual lives of millennials and their difficult transitions into adulthood) bring certain conclusions of deep concern (“The Forgotten Millennials” June 2013, pp. 15–17):
“Working millennials are more vulnerable to poverty and unemployment . . . meaning they face some of the hardest obstacles transitioning to adulthood.” (p. 16)
To the degree our businesses and organizations have healthy young adults, our businesses and organizations will enjoy a rich talent pool and the corresponding success that accompanies it. The opposite is tragically true too.
We all have an opportunity here. Think about what your business or your organization can do to invest in the lives of teenagers and young adults. Churches, clubs, industry outreaches, mentorships, apprenticeships, and part-time jobs all offer tremendous avenues for building up our young people as they prepare for and enter the real world.
Perhaps you can influence a young person to enroll in college when he or she thought it was out of reach. Perhaps you can inspire a young person to embrace a better future than his or her circumstances would seem to dictate. Perhaps you can mentor a young person so he or she forges ahead to become a powerful contributor to our society rather than a resource drain.
I cannot dictate to you what you must do. That is your personal, private, and professional decision. I can only make that call for me. Nevertheless, the one thing I can tell you is a positive decision involving the lives of these young people will pay back rich dividends in more ways than we can even measure.
Let’s do what we can to keep the millennial pipeline—and all the succeeding generations—healthy!