Better Off?


I read an RBC economics report about Millennials recently. The gist of the argument is that they are doing just fine – in many ways they have better economic opportunities now than their Boomer parents had when said parents were young.

I agree with a lot of the report – but the statement that Millennials are superior worker bee material because they grew up with computers, the Internet and mobile technology – say what?

The last truly computer illiterate generation – folks who need bricks and mortar banks with teller service, who pay bills by cheque or at the municipal office – these people are now in their 80s. Even this generation has exceptions – my mother learned basic dial-up and email and in 2003 she had a desktop you could run a small business on. She would have been 100 today.

From what I can see the early Boomers are pretty darn computer literate – I see lots of them texting and tapping on smartphones and tablets – even streaming video with a Roku or Google stick.

As for any Boomer who worked in a math/science job – those folks have had contact with computers basically since university. The first Apple II I saw in business was in 1980 – and the forward looking guy who used it was in his 50s then. Things have changed since punch cards and mainframes it’s true – but you had to keep up. So we did.

The Millennials are masters of social media and probably know more about Instagram and Facebook than the Boomers – but that is a life skill, not a technical advantage.

The other day I was having trouble with an ebook app. The tech service department at Kobo asked for a screen shot. It took me all of 5 minutes to figure out how to do this on a tablet, upload it to Google Drive. I already knew how to retrieve it from the cloud and attach it to an email. And I am a long way from being a Millennial.

In some ways trying to make the argument that Millennials are more computer savvy (hence employable)  because they can post a photo on Instagram is like saying that the early boomers were more work ready because they could drive a car with an automatic and power steering, used FM radio, or – for later Boomers – could program a VCR. Those are simply life skills of the age one lives in – that anyone can pick up if they want to.

Certainly I can’t argue that the Millennials have more opportunities to get out there, see and do things and become more rounded – with a higher Emotional Quotient than their parents. One of my nieces has worked at Walt Disney World and now is aboard a Princess Cruises ship on the Cruise Director’s staff. Her sister is getting her CPA but had a school term in Scotland.

The article makes more sense when it states that the Millennial generation has more women in it who are educated in Science and Mathematics, is more entrepreneurial, more diverse – and those things make for a better workforce. But more computer savvy – nah.


Published by Ray MacDonald

Ray MacDonald is a retired food scientist who lives in Almonte, ON.
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