Halloween Horrors! A Workforce Without Baby Boomers!

Hold on tight to your Baby Boomers! Adjusting your work place for millennials might be a serious waste of time. With so much talk in the human resources field about adapting the workplace for millennial employees, a recent Bloomberg article has shed some revealing light into the motivations of one of the world’s largest millennial labour forces, in China.

“48% of those born in China after 1995 don’t want to enter the traditional job market upon graduation.”

Baby Boomers - Bloomberg, pie chart


Embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship is a noble one for both baby boomers and millennials, but you have to question whether people with little to no working experience have seen enough of the world to add value and solve the problems these ventures present.

Most start-ups fail, and with graduates who’ve no real working experience, the odds no doubt only increase. Not only will China and the rest of the world face lost economic value from these failed ventures, but what about the resources deficit that will be created as a result?

Alternatively, you can take the view point that the value in the learning experience provided to these Millennials is priceless. This view in itself might be a problem. How can economists possible measure the return that China will see from these millennials starting their own ventures?

Then there is the 21.4% that want to pursue higher education. This may only continue to pile up the economic deficit that China’s economy will see for this wave of Millennials.

“A child without education is like a bird without wings” – Tibetan proverb. 

“The aim of education is not knowledge, but action” – Herbert Spencer

The benefits of graduate school differ for baby boomers. For those with no working experience, taking the higher education route is an ambitious one. However, i’m in the mindset that upon receiving an undergraduate qualification, practical working experience trumps higher education the vast majority of the time. The opportunity cost for those that intend to work in a commercial field is the 2+ years lost for these individuals to pick up essential workplace survival skills, especially in today’s talent short job market. If the goal is to pursue an academic career, then I cannot argue with the graduate school path. However, if graduate school is perceived to boost one’s employability then many of the 21.4% will have wasted two years that they will never get back.

Both paths, (entrepreneurship and higher education) are ambitious and perhaps this is the silver lining to the potential wastage of this millennial labour supply. You can also argue that for every 100 start-ups that fail, 1 unicorn is born, capable of providing economic returns far greater than any losses sustained from those that failed.

The Dream Job for Chinese millennials?

Baby boomers - Millennials

In the same survey, the all important “dream job” question was asked. I found the results to be concerning to say the least, with the top dream occupation being a live-streamer or blogger with a gigantic 54% of the vote! In second place was a voice actor at 17%. Bloomberg has pointed to the rise of internet freedom in China being the primary cause in the choice of the vocations above. Maybe i’m being overly harsh here, but these “dream jobs” don’t look to be the economic value creators that I would tie with an ambitious graduate. I try not to look too much into such surveys, but to me, these millennials have made baby boomers all the more valuable to the labour force today.

Long Live Baby Boomers

China’s millennial case is not unique to their nation and companies are making lots of strides to ensure that their millennial employees are seeing their unique needs addressed, such as HSBC’s progressive decision to move 300 people into a co-working space. However, with so much talk and focus on how employers are meeting the needs of millennials, baby boomers should also receive a fair amount of attention in parallel. If the right balance of care for these two generations of the workforce is not maintained, the loss of morale, skills and productivity could be rather scary.

Happy Halloween!


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