Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gen X and Gen Y: any teachers there?

Education loves to ignore societal trends – going through time as if nothing could alter the current operation. Finding talent is one such blind spot. In the past, “Education” always found the talent they needed so they ignored the incredible societal shift going on around them. The current teacher preparation, recruitment and certification system is a great system for finding and keeping baby boomers. But that no longer represents the current reality.

So – will that system work for Gen X and Gen Y workers of today and who cares? Because boomers are retiring, Kelly Services reports that in just 4 years, Gen X and Y will make up 70% of the workforce – so you can’t just ignore them. And the gap between labor supply and demand will continue to widen over the next 20 years.

We have an antiquated system competing for talent with private sector recruiters who understand the Gen X and Gen Y characteristics and are heavily marketing to attract top employees. If nothing changes, teaching will continue to get “left behind”.

And the last Pew study doesn’t bode well for teacher education programs since 81% of 18-25 year olds say that being rich and famous is the most important goal of their generation. Sorry NEA – a $10,000, or even a $20,000 raise in starting salaries is not going to attract this generation in ed school programs.

To properly staff our schools we have to figure out how to attract Gen X and Gen Y once they figure out that getting rich is not where it’s at. To do that we have to get career changes by doing the following:

  • Use the web to get their interest - I dare you to figure out the process to become a teacher through the web in almost any state or district – you have to help them become teachers
  • Use the web to advertise – google ads are huge for us right now and one of the main reasons we now have 4,500 candidates
  • Get High tech – our teacher preparation and certification must be high tech in order to attract them into the program – think online and podcasts
  • Get Customized and Flexible– these generations did NOT grow up in a one-size-fits-all society and won’t accept that in their teaching program
  • Understand they are not going to stay in teaching– career/job loyalty is gone – understand it and use that to your advantage to attract talent from other careers
  • Immediate payoffs – they want pay plans and career ladders so these must be in place to attract the right talent
  • Summers off – Gen X and Y work to live and Teaching needs to highlight the opportunity to do just that – leverage this competitive edge over other careers

Gen X and Gen Y have too many choices. If teaching doesn’t understand them, they will go do something else. Teacher recruitment, preparation and certification programs that are designed to attract these groups will be the most successful as the baby boomers head towards retirement.

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