Bloomberg News

Millennials Shunning Business After Great Recession Cuts Options

November 20, 2013

A majority of college students say they aren’t considering a career in business after the last recession left many previous graduates unable to find work, according to a Bentley University survey.

“Kids don’t want to go into the business world, they’ve seen all the scandals of recent years, particularly on Wall Street,” Bentley University President Gloria Larson said at The Year Ahead: 2014, a two-day conference sponsored by Bloomberg LP in Chicago. “This is particularly true of young women, they’re saying ‘business has a bad image and I don’t want to be part of it.’”

A dearth of Millennials seeking jobs in business will add to the skills gap that companies are saying make it difficult to fill positions as the baby boomer generation, people born from 1946 to 1964, starts to retire.

Many Millennials, the estimated 80 million people born from about 1981 to 2001, entered college or were early in their careers just in time for the onset of the worst recession since the Great Depression. The stories of scandal and their parents’ hardship at work were discouraging, Larson said.

About 60 percent of college students said they aren’t considering a career in business and almost half said they had not been encouraged to do so, according to preliminary results from the Bentley University survey, which will be fully released in January. Bentley University is located in Waltham, Massachusetts.

The U.S. unemployment rate for men and women 20-years-old to 24-years-old was 12.5 percent in October, compared to 7.3 percent for working Americans overall, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The young persons’ unemployment rate peaked at 17.2 percent in April 2010, from a low of 7.2 percent in May of 2007, the data showed.

Google, Facebook

Also hurting their prospects, less than 10 percent of business decision makers grade Millennials’ job skills as an “A,” Larson said, citing the survey. A majority of corporate recruiters and other business decision makers gave the students a “C” or lower for preparedness to work.

“If you asked them if they want to work for Google or Facebook, it would be 10 out of 10,” said Shama Kabani, CEO of Marketing Zen Group, an online marketing company in Dallas. Technology companies have done a better job than other businesses in creating a positive image, she said during the conference panel.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeff Green in Southfield, Michigan at jgreen16@bloomberg.net; Carol Massar in New York at cmassar@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at mschuetz9@bloomberg.net


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