Giving Compass' Take:

• Mark C. Perna, writing for Getting Smart, discusses how parents of the "Why Generation" need to foster young people's curiosity about future professions so that they can have productive careers in the 21st century workforce.

• How will the philanthropic landscape change as more millennial givers join the workforce and the social sector?

• Read about how to prepare students for the future workforce. 


The future workplace is fascinating to consider. Things are changing more rapidly than ever, with automation, AI, and globalization affecting an increasing number of professions. The skills gap is a significant concern, as the mismatch between the skills employers need and the skills that prospective workers actually possess is expanding. Only one thing is certain: today’s young people will be entering an economy and workforce much different than what older generations have experienced.

But in the midst of all the studies, reports, policy questions, and initiatives to solve these challenges, the young people who are to fill the jobs of the future can be strangely marginalized.

The Why Generation is my collective term for Generations Y and Z, the millennials and the generation immediately following. This title is based on their two most prominent traits: inquisitiveness and innovation. These deeply interrelated qualities define these generations in a way that gives us fresh insight into who they are and what makes them tick.

Simply put, the Why Generation is always asking why. And it’s a serious question; in fact, the importance of answering it is the reason I titled my book Answering Why. Their inquisitive nature leads them to ask, why do we do things this way? Why is this needed? Why can’t we make it better?

To older generations, the constant question of why can come across as insubordination or a challenge to authority, but in general, this isn’t the meaning that younger workers intend to convey. Young people in the workforce today ask why because they truly want to know. They want to know because the answer will inform their own contribution to the process and end result.

Young people have to see a bigger why behind the company vision than just shareholder returns and making money. Yes, they have high expectations for salary, advancement, vacation time, and flexibility. But their biggest expectation in the workplace is a career that is meaningful and achieves something positive in the world.

Read the full article about motivating young people to pursue professions by Mark C. Perna at Getting Smart