The labour market is undergoing a fundamental transition that is strongly linked to the emergence of Generation Y, born appr. 1979 to 1990. This paper investigates attitudes and preferences of Generation Y, and how they will affect supply-demand mechanisms and characteristics of the labour market.
Generation Y has been subject to a great deal of research from various perspectives: e.g. marketing, sociology and HRM, the latter suggesting that Generation Y will increase the demands on employers to support Generation Yers in their ambitious plans to have a good career and reach a high level of selfrealisation at work. By identifying a number of characteristics drawn from the consumption sphere, this study suggests that European Generation Yers are increasingly looking at their jobs and careers as a continuous flurry of opportunities to learn and perfect themselves. To understand this development, which was identified at an early stage of a research project that started in 2006, a model based on two premises has been applied. First, the assumption that individuals’ values and preferences are shaped by values and forces at a (i) a societal level (e.g. collectivism vs. individualism, modernistic vs. post-modernistic values); (ii) the market environment that reflects the availability of products from the global marketplace; (iii) the social environment that represents how people relate to each and the contemporary popular culture.
Second, the assumption that coming-of-age experiences influence values, attitudes, and behaviour for a lifetime. A substantial body of research suggests that individuals are highly influenced by the external events that were happening when they were “coming of age” (generally between the years 17 to 23). The Cold War, the Estonia disaster, energy and financial crises´, 9-11, the Palme Assassination, and the reunion of Western and Eastern Germany are examples of such major events.
Having grown up in a branded society overcrowded with commercial messages, choices and opportunities, Generation Y bring their values to work life, thus changing the attitudes towards the employee-employer relationship and how work is being done. They see work as a venue of self-realisation and the boundaries between work and leisure time are becoming blurred. Hence, in numerous fundamental respects, the labour market is influenced by and increasingly showing a character that is similar to the consumer market.
2011. 1-21 p.