Work: old dogs and young pups

It used to be that older workers would teach the young colleagues what’s what – ‘Now, sonny, careful with that drive belt, it’ll take your hand off’. These days, however, 40% of older workers believe their younger colleagues teach them new skills, according to a report from Jobcentre Plus.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010
The change makes sense given the prevalence of IT-related tasks in the modern workday, from e-mail to Powerpoint and Excel. Such staples are second-nature for the tech-savvy yoof, whose screams as they emerge from the womb these days could almost be over a lack of a decent network through which to blog their experience.

However, given the decline in basic numeracy and literacy skills that has supposedly befallen our school leavers, you can imagine the other 60% of elder respondents were grumbling quite the opposite – that they spend half their time trying to force the youngsters into doing long division, or making them include vowels in their corporate communications.

So what is the youth’s view? Interestingly, a third of youngsters believe their older colleagues are more likely to work anti-social hours than those their own age. And ninety-four percent thought older workers brought valuable experience. So it seems that, across the generations, our workplaces a characterised by some healthy give and take. That is until you hit the issue of reliability – only 25% of older workers rated their less chronologically-challenged colleagues as reliable. Clearly either the youth need to learn a few things about doing the job right, or their older colleagues require a few lessons in how to chill out, man.

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