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Are Fresh Grads Of Today Smarter Than Previous Grads?

I had this argument with a few friends yesterday.

Sure, today's grads are younger, have more information, better-looking, etc, etc. But are they really smarter than graduates of 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago?

I deal with fresh grads (NYSC, etc) on an everyday basis, and, based on my interaction, I would say an emphatic NO in general.

My reasons?

1. They seem to know a lot less than older grads about the fundamentals of the course they studied. For example, I have corpers in my team, who are supposed to be 1st class or 2.1 graduates of electronic engineering. They don't even understand the fundamentals of telecoms.

2. They don't seem to have the discipline required for the work environment. They are kind of conditioned for the 'easy life'. They complain about every task you assign to them.

3. They are a lot more focused on office politics, which is surprising for their level and age. In my day, which wasn't that far off, fresh grads who were into politics stood out sharply like a sore thumb. Most of us were just naive, and wanted to learn.

4. They're heavily into Facebook, and Twitter. Not to mention the EPL, Nollywood, Nigezie, and Sound City. I mean, full-time.

5. They are 100% sold on the Quick Fix. Young people nowadays don't just say 'I wanna be a pilot, because I love flying'. Nowadays, what you hear is 'I heard that pilots are paid N1m a month, and they are in high demand. Can you tell me which certification (sic) I can quickly do that would make me a pilot in 1 week?'

At the end of the day, I can say this about most of the younger grads:

[list]

[li]They are street-smart, not book-smart.[/li]

[li]They are way too aware of money, which makes them seem shallow to me, for their age.[/li]

[li]A good time is more important than a hard day's work to them.[/li]

[li]They are street-smart, not book-smart.[/li]

[/list]

Now I'm not generalizing. A lot of them still have good values. I'm just saying that the majority don't.

Would like to hear the opinions of the house.

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14 answers

@ topic

No. The IT age hasnt helped at all, btw. It only bred a whole generation of yahoo yahoo mentality.

and yes, I agree with the original post as well.

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@Ajanlekoko

I should apologise as my post wasn't squarely addressing the topic, it's just I get tired of everyone giving us flack for our "bad work ethic" and "sense of entitlement", which was what I was mainly addressing. I think the argument of paying your dues is over played and everyone talks about spending time on facebook and twitter when in reality it's no different from them spending 45 minutes at the water cooler gossiping or coasting in the guise of filling out forms.

Yes, I do think the issue of technical knowledge is important but in my opinion that's more of an issue with the educational system. I have friends who are on high 2:1s and 1sts in the ifes and unilags but are far behind in relation to their counterparts in the west. As someone who has interviewed graduates, I am appalled by the lack of technical depth. I'm not so quick to put that down as their fault but more as a product of a failed system. You are right, graduates today have less technical skills than previous years but that can be accounted for through the fact we have younger and less experienced people graduating, the vast increase in number of students to faculty ratio, loss of personalised learning and what is pretty much a failed system.

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@joeycrack, noted and will be restored shortly.

Now, I read your post. I am not sure you got my point. I agree with your points, and definitely we need to work smarter. But it doesn't take away the need for real skills.

I don't really care much for effort as much as results, so your outsourcing stunt is cool by me. But as your manager, I would still need you to think, and produce real results. Real results can only come out of real skills. Real technical skills, whether you are a banker, accountant, day trader, engineer, doctor, or lawyer, are important. As simple as they make it sound, you can't really outsource thinking, only repetitive operational tasks like preparing reports and presentations. And we need our young grads to think more, and learn the rigors of whatever profession they find themselves.

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The spambot has gone crazy again. Keeps eating my post. @Ajanlekoko, can you please restore my post

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Most of the sense of entitlement comes from the fact that our generation had been told from a young age that getting an education is a requirement in order to be successful in the working world. Bright futures were promised to the starry-eyed, academically-rigorous students, which most are yet to see. Impatience sets in when you realise that the realities of life are different from what your parents and teachers told you, it's this impatience of Millennials like myself, I believe Gen Xers refer to as a sense of entitlement.

There is also the realisation that all the stress and work and sacrifice (of time and money) in the university years to become well-rounded students with great marks merely amounts to a name on a diploma. The current incentive climate doesn't reward process but results, so if results are all that matter we are more than happy to forgo the tried and tested methods and look for faster ways of getting a job done. We do not see the need to do things for the sake of doing them. After working my behind off to get a good result, I do not see why I should effectively become a file clerk or be doing tasks which don't help me meet my targets, I didn't forgo my social life for all those years just to be performing irrelevant tasks all in the name of being hard-working. This attitude of looking for a more efficient way of getting results and cutting out bureaucracy is what Gen Xers refer to as lazy and unwilling to learn. We are willing to learn not just the things you learnt or way you did 10, 15, 20 years ago. The way I see it, there is no need for me to learn how to wash clothes with my hands when now there's a washing machine everywhere or learn to use a broom when there's a vacuum cleaner around.

When I got my 1st part-time job, I was giving a set of tasks I would be evaluated on. I immediately mapped out the easiest way of getting them done but "management" was slowing me down with bureaucratic tasks like filling reports, typing and filing documents. I complained, told them they would be better off getting a clerk to perform the tasks and that doing it kills my productivity, I was labelled 'lazy and unwilling to learn'. When I realised they weren't going to change, I logged on elance.com, found two Filipinos willing to handle the clerical aspect for cheap, employed my cousin in Nigeria to handle some part of the job, altogether taking away 80% of my work and only a small dent in my salary, it allowed me focus on the areas I really enjoyed, at the end of the assessment period I outperformed the supposedly hard-working part-timers by over 5 times, got way bigger commissions than I paid the Filipinos and my cousin, now they are wooing me with expensive dinners and want to retain me permanently but at the beginning I was just another lazy kid with a sense of entitlement.

I do agree with some of your points but I feel a lot of managers haven't realised the world is changing and they need to change their incentive structures too. A lot of my generation want to learn, work effectively and get promoted faster than ever before. If the rewards are not clear or attractive enough then there's no point working that hard. You can either turn self-indulgent, ego-centric recruits into fast risers or a bunch of non-motivated hustlers. We've seen our parents retrenched after decades of service and don't fall for the 'one day you'll get to the top' line, we want clear reward structures, we want our rewards quicker than ever before and wouldn't allow anyone ride our coattails. If I'm producing more than someone with 20 years experience in the company, I feel I should be paid more too regardless of his experience.

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I'm sure aniiseg meant that as a tongue in cheek comment and not in anyway malicious.

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Very true. It's the fast food, instant messaging, house girl raised, instant everything ideology. The really lazy ones will fizzle out and you can definitely pick them out. This by itself is no mean feat!

A manager's job sure gets more difficult each year.

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@ow11,

Thanks. Good contributions.

You know, it would be a plus to know that our fresh grads are street smart as well as book smart, but sometimes it even comes off as neither.

Oft times you come across chaps who are just not interested in any kind of lifting, heavy or light. They just want to coast in some sort of undefined neutrality, but surprisingly, they still want to get their due.

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@Ajanlekoko

As management, you would have to take a gamble which is what it is anyway. If sycophants are rewarded in a company, new recruits would see it and act accordingly and would go a jackin' if they see it is different. This is  the point I was trying to raise.

In our shallow minded society, sycophant-mode is default and you shouldn't expect a new graduate to be in 'workaholic' mode. It is only wisdom as we are all too aware how handsome sycophancy and moving with the crowd pays in our society.

Sure they are hustlers and that probably explains why big companies hold aptitude and skills tests to judge new recruits. At least, you are assured of getting 'hustlers' with some technical ability. BTW, the LAN thing was just an example.

It is very sad looking at the lack of desire to know. However, this is a worldwide phenomenon but that hasn't made Phd positions less competitive. Very adaptable graduates should be a good trait for a new hire in any company which you the manager can turn to either hustlers or eggheads depending on your reward system.

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No you are not. In fact, you're agreeing with me.

The whole career thing is a scale. It either tilts this way or that. But for true progress, we have to find the balance between the street smart and book smart skills. Each of them have a role to play, and it's traditionally identified out of knowledge, skill, and attitude, not greed.

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Tough question there dude

Every company needs Street smart (analytical folks) and Book smart (conventional scholastic folks) to survive.

For me the key qualities to look for are interest and passion an then value can be built on that

The employees you would want to retain are those who seek frequent opportunities to learn and grow in their careers, knowledge and skills which comes as a result of passion.

, Op am not contradicting my initial post

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@ow11,

Actually I would agree and sympathize ordinarily. The problem is, now I have to assess them as 'Management'.

Recently in my company mid-level and senior managers were asked by HR if there were any youth corpers in our respective teams we were interested in retaining. I easily said no, because no youth corper demonstrated any particular desire to be retained, apart from when it drew close to the end of their service year. During the year, they just chilled, and coasted, did not demonstrate any particular desire to learn anything, and didn't even bring anything to the table.

Now mind you, I would always prefer to hire a youth corper. Reason: I can get them almost for free at the initial, and train them to my specs, at no additional cost, and keep them on the job longer. But I couldn't help comparing these guys to when I did NYSC (which was not too long ago anyway!), and I felt like, these guys are more of smart alecs than brilliant resourceful guys. No hunger to learn or achieve anything, rather an expectation of what they feel is entitled to them.

Which is where I have a problem with your assessment.

That kind of paints them as hustlers with no real market value. If all I need is someone to set up a LAN, then I won't hire a grad. I'll just get someone from Computer Village to do it. Same way I would prefer to get an NYSC grad rather than a 'seasoned' industry chap from MTN or somewhere, coming with a lengthy wage bill. As a manager, I will do my economics.

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@Ajanlekoko

- Is it wrong to believe that the whole essence of having a career is to get 'paid'?

- Why would you want to slave for knowledge if there's little guarantee that you'll get paid in your 40s?

- Many people like to have a bit of fun when they have some strength and freedom which is why the office politics becomes very important to them at a young age?

In our world today where mega bonuses are paid to bank execs for ruining our economy plus the perks that come with it, It is usually a no-brainer for a young grad to pick Power/Pay over knowledge. Since those with real knowledge are usually insulted and beaten up as members of ASUU.

I have to say our grads are smarter because they are able to identify what needs to be done and do it. If that includes setting up a LAN, they will do it!!

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