Our Wrong Assumptions About Young & Old Workers

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It is almost second nature to create stereotypes of people based on age. If someone is in their twenties then they must be technologically adept, obsessed with keeping fit, prepared to change jobs frequently whilst obviously searching for meaningful work. Those in their sixties and seventies must be less interested in work and are probably exhausted and anticipating the leisure time offered by a long retirement.

These are seductive and easy to understand behavioral labels. But are these assumptions either real or helpful? Might they obscure even more important similarities?

We believe this is a crucial question to ask right now as working lives – shaped by technological innovations and extended by growing longevity – are undergoing profound transformations. To understand how people are responding to this transformation in their working lives, we developed a survey completed by more than 10,000 people from across the world aged 24 to 80.

We found far fewer differences between the age groups than we might have imagined. In fact, many of the traits and desires commonly attributed to younger people are shared by the whole workforce. Why might this be the case?

One reason is that we are simply living longer. This means we’re also working longer, and working differently.

For our recent book The 100 Year Life we calculated how long people will work. Whilst we cannot be precise, it is clear that in order to finance retirement many people currently in their fifties will work into their seventies; whilst those in their twenties could well be working into their eighties. That means that inevitably people of very different ages are increasingly working together.

This long working life, coupled with profound technological changes, dismantles the traditional three-stage life of full-time education, full-time work, and full-time retirement. In its place is coming – for all employees regardless of their age – a multi-stage life that blends education, exploration, and learning, as well as corporate jobs, freelance gigs, and time spent out of the workforce. Inevitably the variety of these stages and their possible sequencing will result in both greater variety within age cohorts, whilst also providing opportunities for different ages to engage in similar activities. In other words, work activities will become increasingly “age agnostic” and these age stereotypes will look increasingly outdated.

Right now people of every age are becoming increasingly aware of the transformation of their working life. They are reinvesting in their skills, looking after their health and thinking about options, transitions and career switches that weren’t a reality for previous generations. Viewed in this light, there is less discontinuity between different ages – and instead a shared, and growing interest in the tools to cope with a longer working life in an age of profound technological disruption.

Our survey highlighted these commonalities. While there may be some selection bias — the 10,000 people who completed our survey online are already interested in the topic of life and work changes — their experiences and attitudes highlight how misleading simple age related stereotypes can be. Consider six fairly common age-based assumptions: the young invest most in new skills, they are most positive and excited about their work, and they work hardest to keep fit; the old are more exhausted, keen to slow down, and less likely to explore. The people in our study overturned these stereotypes.

  1. It is not just the young who are investing in new skills. We asked people whether they felt their skills and knowledge had plateaued, and whether they had recently made an investment in their skills. After the age of 30 many people are concerned about plateauing skills. Indeed there is no difference between those in their 30s, 40s or 60s – almost two-thirds worried that their skills and knowledge were not keeping up with changing work demands. What is fascinating is how many people were countering this by actively investing in their skills. Certainly a higher proportion of those aged 18-30 (91%) and 31-45 (72%) felt they were investing in new skills but after the age of 45 almost 60% of all ages said they were actively investing. In other words, the majority of people keep maintaining skills and this does not significantly decline with age.
  1. It is not just the young who are positive and excited by their work. This is a crucial attitude as working lives elongate. If indeed being positive and excited about work declines sharply with age, then long working lives will become a terrible burden for the older. What was striking was that whatever their age, those feeling positive about their work was a constant at just over 50%. Just as striking is the proportion of people of all ages who don’t feel positive about their work.
  1. Older people are working harder to keep fit. We know that vitality is central to a long productive life and it is easy to imagine that it’s only the young who really care about their fitness. Yet we discovered that it is the older who are working hardest to try to keep fit. About half of those under 45 actively try to keep fit, rising continuously across the ages with a peak of 71% for those aged over 70.
  1. Older people are not more exhausted. One of the reasons corporations often prefer the young to the old is the assumption that with age comes exhaustion at work and therefore a lowering of productivity. We found no evidence of this age related exhaustion. In fact, more people under the age of 45 (43%) said they were exhausted than those over 45 (35%) – the least exhausted are those over 60.
  1. Older people don’t want to slow down. The stereotype is that as people age they want to slow down and are looking forward to retiring. We found this not to be the case. More than half of those aged 46 to 60 want to slow down, whilst only 39% of the people over 60 and less than 20% of the people over 70 say they want to slow down.
  1. Exploring is not just for the young. When you think about “gap years” you probably think about 20-year-olds taking time out after full-time education. But why assume that it is only the young who want to take time out to explore and learn more about themselves and their world? Crucially, we found no significant age difference in people’s excitement about exploring their options.

The six assumptions we have explored here are probably just aspects of a much bigger tapestry of assumptions about the young and old that are spurious, wrong, even damaging. We use the word damaging with care. When corporations believe that older workers invest less in their knowledge, are less excited by their work and exploring their world, and are on a path to physical decline and exhaustion, they make the wrong decisions about whom to select, promote and develop, and whom to retire.

There are undoubtedly some differences across the age groups that are important in the workplace. However, the over-simplicity of age and generational labels decreases our understanding of individuality; it masks the commonality of the task we are all facing as we strive to achieve a productive and enriching longer working career; and is in deep conflict with the imperative to develop age-agnostic working practices.

As every one of us is faced with living and working longer it is absolutely crucial that, whatever our age, we face up to and question unfounded assumptions and stereotypes about ourselves and about others. Only then can we create workplaces where people are accepted for themselves.

 

 

 


Lynda Gratton is Professor of Management Practice at the London Business School where she teaches an elective on the Future of Work and directs an executive program on Human Resource Strategy. Lynda is a fellow of the World Economic Forum, is ranked by Business Thinkers in the top 15 in the world, and was named the best teacher at London Business School in 2015. Her most recent book is The 100 Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, co-authored with Andrew Scott.


Andrew Scott is Professor of Economics at London Business School and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University and the Centre for Economic Policy Research. He has served as an advisor on macroeconomics to a range of governments and central banks and was Non-Executive Director on the UK’s Financial Services Authority. He is the co-author, with Linda Scott, of The 100-Year Life: Living and working in an age of longevity.


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Limited Transport Is A Barrier To Young People Getting A Job

Darren Cini would have to leave home in Windsor at 3am to get to work at 5am at Wetherill Park, about 35 kilometres away, because of poor public transport links.

Limited transport frustrating the young and unemployed

Two young job seekers living on the edges of Melbourne and Sydney talk about their difficulties travelling to job interviews.

Since losing his job at a sheet metal factory after a period of illness, Mr Cini, 19, has been virtually cut off from job opportunities.

“I’ve had a few jobs, but haven’t been able to keep them because of the problems I have getting there,” he said.

Darren Cini, 19, at Windsor Train station.
Darren Cini, 19, at Windsor Train station.  Photo: Wolter Peeters

Not only are transport services patchy on the fringes of metropolitan Sydney, getting a driver’s licence appears to be the only solution. But this is also out of reach because Mr Cini doesn’t know anyone with time to supervise his driving to get his driver’s licence. In NSW, people on L plates are required to log 120 hours of supervised driving before they can sit a driver’s licence test.

Mr Cini, who receives about $280 per fortnight from Centrelink, cannot afford to take driving lessons, which can cost around $80.

“I’ve been getting lifts from friends, but that doesn’t get you far,” he said.

A new report released on Monday reveals limited public transport is a major barrier preventing young people from getting and keeping a job.

Youth unemployment is close to 13 per cent – double the national jobless rate – and is concentrated in regional areas and fast-growing outer suburbs which have some of the poorest public transport links.

Tony Nicholson, the executive director for the Brotherhood of St Laurence, which completed the report: U-Turn: The transport woes of Australia’s young jobseekers, said the greatest concentrations of unemployed young people are on the outskirts of major cities and in country areas where jobs are few. The bulk of job opportunities are hard to access in the cities.

The new analysis of the annual Household Labour Income and Family Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey of more than 13,000 people nationally shows 61 per cent of young people aged under 25 lacked a driver’s licence and up to a quarter cite transport issues as a key barrier to getting a job.

“The issue about transport to get young people connected to jobs is as critical as their training and education to match them to employers,” Mr Nicholson said.

“If they don’t have transport to look for work, then maintain it, their education and training counts for nothing. This hasn’t been given enough attention in strategies to tackle youth unemployment.”

Mr Nicholson said one of the most common complaints his agency has received from young people is a lack of transport.

“This research highlights the extent of the problem and the fact that if we are going to be successful in reducing youth unemployment we need to have a multi-pronged attack on it. One area that hasn’t been given enough attention is the transport challenge that is faced by young people,” he said.

Learner drivers need to log 120 hours of supervised driving in NSW and Victoria – a challenge for disadvantaged households with one adult driver or no vehicle. Mr Nicholson said the number of hours required were inconsistent across the country with only 50 hours of supervised driving required in Western Australia.

“There appears to be no universal standard,” he said. “If we are going to get better at getting young people into work, we have to revisit nationally the requirements for training for driver’s licences and the burden that falls unreasonably on more disadvantaged households in the outskirts of country areas.”

With more affordable housing to be found in outer suburbs and regional areas, youth unemployment, poverty and exclusion were becoming more highly concentrated there.

“Transport becomes a critical issue and it hasn’t been given enough attention in the strategy so far to tackle youth unemployment,” Mr Nicholson said.

While local councils had programs to help young people get driving licences, their availability depended on the supply of community volunteers to supervise driving lessons.

“I think we need a fundamental re-look at the way in which the burden of getting a driver’s licence is falling heavily upon disadvantaged households and young people in the outskirts of city and country areas,” Mr Nicholson said.

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What Can We Do About Young People & Crime?

Young people run riot during Melbourne’s Moomba festivities. Out of control teenagers create chaos at the Parkville Youth Justice Centre, causing more than $1 million damage. Premier Daniel Andrews pronounces himself utterly sick of the behaviour. “I am sick, and the Victorian community is sick of it,” he said.

Q: So what is the scale of the problem at our youth justice centres?

There are two elements to Victoria’s so-called youth crime crisis: the recent frightening and chaotic scenes at the Parkville youth justice facility and Malmsbury juvenile jail, and fears about young people committing crimes under the banner of the so-called Apex gang.

The problems plaguing the state’s youth justice facilities are real, and getting worse.

Over the weekend and on Monday, young people ripped ceilings and walls apart at Parkville, threw computers through the windows and armed themselves before climbing onto the roof.

The damage to the centre was so great that the government has been forced to make arrangements to send dozens of young people to the adult prison at Barwon.

It didn’t hurt that the move made the government look tough on youth crime.

In September, inmates and guards clashed for three days at Parkville. Last month, there was unrest at Malmsbury, which mirrored similar scenes there in September. It’s understood there have been about a dozen serious incidents at youth justice facilities in Victoria since last October.

Youths  protesting on the roof of the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre in Parkville in March.
Youths protesting on the roof of the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre in Parkville in March. Photo: Jesse Marlow

Q: And what about youth crime?

Here, the picture is less clear cut.

Shadow corrections spokesman Edward O’Donohue issued a press release on Thursday bemoaning the “crime tsunami engulfing Victoria”.

Members of the Apex gang have been blamed for the Moomba riots in Melbourne's CBD in March.
Members of the Apex gang have been blamed for the Moomba riots in Melbourne’s CBD in March. Photo: Courtesy of @russmulry, via Twitter

The truth looks very different. While overall crime rates in Victoria are up 11 per cent, according to the latest data from the Crime Statistics Agency, the number of young people aged 10-19 caught committing crimes has actually dropped over the past four years. So too has the number of offences they are committing.

The numbers are interesting. In the most recent financial year (2015-16), 23,865 children aged 10-19 were caught committing 64,369 offences.

Damaged caused to the ceiling of the Youth Justice Centre by rioters in March.
Damaged caused to the ceiling of the Youth Justice Centre by rioters in March. Photo: supplied

Four years ago, 32,761 young people  were responsible for 73,427 offences – so the rate of offending is dropping at a much lower rate than the number of offenders.

Q: What has changed?

The data backs up perceptions that there is a small group of young people who are each committing more and – often – violent crimes.

There was rioting in Parkville again on the weekend.
There was rioting in Parkville again on the weekend. Photo: Luis Ascui

Eight years ago, 17 per cent of offenders aged under 25 had three or more offences against their name. In 2015-16, this rose to 22 per cent.

The other big change seems to be the enthusiasm for two particular types of crime – car-jackings and aggravated burglaries – among young people.

Riot police and dog handlers were called to the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre in Parkville on Sunday.
Riot police and dog handlers were called to the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre in Parkville on Sunday.  Photo: ABC News

While car-jackings are still not counted as a separate offence, the number of motor vehicle thefts coinciding with burglaries – which police said was the most reliable way of understanding car-jackings –- went from 95 in 2014-15 to 171 in 2015-16.

On Thursday, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp said there had been a three-fold increase in the number of young people arrested for aggravated burglaries in the past year.

A Domino's Pizza deliveryman delivers an order to the centre on Monday aternoon.
A Domino’s Pizza deliveryman delivers an order to the centre on Monday aternoon. Photo: Justin McManus

The crime problem is certainly getting worse in Greater Dandenong, the area that’s home to much of the “Apex” problem.

In the past financial year, the number of offences committed there per 100,000 residents rose by 16.6 per cent.

Even so, Greater Dandenong was the fifth most crime-affected local government area, trailing after Melbourne, Latrobe, Yarra and Horsham.

Q: So what can authorities do with young people who seem to have no regard for the law?

Because of the mandated privacy about children’s court cases, we just do not know whether the young people rioting in Parkville and Malmsbury are the same people behind recent car-jackings and aggravated burglaries.

And while the government and opposition talk tough, Liana Buchanan, the state’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, says it’s important to remember that many if not most of the young people responsible for the rioting come from damaged backgrounds and have been subjected to neglect, abuse or trauma.

“Among the experts I think there’s consensus that a more punitive approach doesn’t work with these kids,” she said.

“The evidence is clear that an approach that’s going to the heart of their offending is going to work.”

Ms Buchanan would have the government look at putting money into early intervention, intensive case management and clinical assistance, including trauma-led treatment.

“The numbers of youth offenders is dropping; the reality is that this massive concern about a youth crime wave is exaggerated.”

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Life Not Getting Better For Indigenous Australians: Study

Indigenous Australians are becoming more disadvantaged, with alarming increases in imprisonment rates, mental health problems and self harm, according to a damning Productivity Commission report released today.

Key points:

  • “Most comprehensive report” on Indigenous wellbeing undertaken in Australia
  • Indigenous imprisonment rates up 77pc over past 15 years
  • Commission estimates only 34 of 1,000 Indigenous programs are properly evaluated

The commission’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report says despite some positive trends, the plight of Indigenous Australians has “stagnated or worsened” in critical areas of wellbeing.

Among the findings, the national Indigenous imprisonment rate has surged by 77 per cent over the past 15 years and the hospitalisation rate for self harm is up by 56 per cent over the past decade.

The report points to a failure of policy and oversight, with the commission estimating only 34 of 1,000 Indigenous programs are been properly evaluated by authorities.

Productivity Commission deputy chair Karen Chester told the ABC’s AM program the findings are a wake-up call for all levels of government about the reality of Indigenous wellbeing and whether the $30 billion budget is being properly spent.

“You want to know that money is being spent not just in terms of bang for buck for taxpayers, but that we’re not short-changing Indigenous Australians,” Ms Chester said.

“Of over a thousand policies and programs, we could only identify 34 across the whole of Australia that have been robustly and transparently evaluated.

“At the end of the day, we can’t feign surprise that we’re not seeing improvement across all these wellbeing indicators if we’re not lifting the bonnet and evaluating if the policies and programs are working or not.”

The report is being billed by the commission as “compulsory reading” and the most comprehensive report on Indigenous wellbeing undertaken in Australia.

‘The clock has been ticking for a while’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were involved in the study, which was produced by the Productivity Commission for a review into government service provision.

Despite the disturbing assessment, a number of case studies have been highlighted where good governance is contributing to the success of Indigenous organisations.

These include the Waitja Tjutangku Palyapayi Aboriginal Corporation in Central Australia, which helps communities to counter economic disadvantage, and the Marius Project in the northern Victoria town of Swan Hill.

The report says areas of health, economic participation, life expectancy and aspects of education have improved from the update two years ago, with child mortality rates narrowing between 1998 and 2014.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

The proportion of adults whose main income came from employment increased from 32 per cent in 2003 to 43 per cent in 2014-15.

But Ms Chester says it was now up to state, territory and federal governments to take the report on board to determine what is working and what is failing.

“I think the clock has been ticking for a while already,” Ms Chester said.

“We have the data, we have the analysis and we know what indicators are linked to the others.”

While the report includes case studies of examples of “things that work”, it says the small number available underscores the lack of Indigenous programs that are being rigorously evaluated for effectiveness.

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Pope Francis: ‘No Peace Without Justice’

Pope Francis calls Christians to open their eye to world’s ‘forgotten and excluded’

 

A Year of Mercy. Pope Francis meets refugees at the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, April 16, 2016. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis had strong words for believers worldwide as he celebrated Mass for “the socially excluded” in St. Peter’s basilica on Nov. 13. The Jesuit pope pointed to “the tragic contradiction of our age,” the fact that “as progress and new possibilities increase, which is a good thing, less and less people are able to benefit from them.”

Denouncing this as “a great injustice that should concern us all,” the pope said, “We cannot go about our business quietly at home while Lazarus lies at the door. There is no peace in the homes of the prosperous as long as justice is lacking in the home of everyone.

On Nov. 13 in cathedrals and sanctuaries throughout the world, the Holy Doors of Mercy are being closed. Pope Francis, who will close the Holy Door in St. Peter’s next Sunday, recalled this and urged believers to “ask for the grace not to close our eyes to God who sees us and to our neighbor who asks something of us.”

He encouraged them to “open our eyes to God, purifying the eye of our hearts of deceitful and fearful images, from the god of power and retribution, the projection of human pride and fear” and “to open our eyes to our neighbor, especially to our brothers and sisters who are forgotten and excluded” because “that is where the church’s magnifying glass is pointed.”

The morning Mass was attended not only by cardinals and bishops dressed in green vestments but also, at the pope’s explicit wish, 6,000 socially excluded women and men from 22 countries—people who are homeless, unemployed or suffering other hardships, who are surviving from day-to-day supported by Catholic and other charities in their homelands.

Pope Francis wanted such people to be present at this Mass for the “Jubilee of the Socially Excluded” as a reminder to the world of the hundreds of millions, perhaps over one billion, persons worldwide who are at the bottom of the social ladder, in similar or even worse conditions.

“When we speak of exclusion, we immediately think of concrete people, not useless objects but precious persons,” Pope Francis said in a homily that sought to awaken global consciences.

He denounced the fact that “the human person” whom “God put at the pinnacle of creation” is so “often discarded” in today’s world and “set aside in favor of ephemeral things.”

Image result for pope francis peace justice

This “is unacceptable because in God’s eyes man is the most precious good,” he said. “It is ominous that we are growing used to this rejection,” he declared.

“We should be worried when our consciences are anaesthetized and we no longer see the brother or sister suffering at our side or notice the grave problems in our world, which become a mere refrain familiar from the headlines on the evening news,” Francis said during this last Mass of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which he will close in this basilica next Sunday, Nov. 20.

Then addressing the thousands of “socially excluded” seated in front row seats in St. Peter’s basilica, the pope told them in a soft voice: “Dear brothers and sisters, today is your Jubilee. Your presence here helps us to be attuned to God’s wavelength, to see what he sees.”

He reminded them that “Jesus sees not only appearances, but turns his gaze to the ‘humble and contrite in spirit,’ to the many poor Lazaruses of our day.”

Then turning to the prosperous and well-to-do believers and citizens in the wider world, he declared, “What harm we do to ourselves when we fail to notice Lazarus, excluded and cast out (cf. Lk 16:19-21)! It is turning away from God himself. It is the symptom of a spiritual sclerosis when we are only interested in objects to be produced rather than on persons to be loved.”

Speaking with passion throughout, Pope Francis reminded his audience that Scriptures tell us “that almost everything in this world is passing away, like running water,” but two “treasured realities” remain “like a precious stone in a sieve”:  the Lord and our neighbor.

“Everything else—the heavens, the earth, all that is most beautiful, even this Basilica—will pass away; but we must never exclude God or others from our lives.”

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Young People Won’t Let a World Of Walls Happen

Image result for young people world of walls

By Lorna Solis, Member of the Global Future Council on The Future of the Humanitarian System of the World Economic Forum

Imagine this: when conflict happens, and people flee, they know that – when they reach safety – they will be welcomed sympathetically and efficiently assigned to a safe, stable country, according to an agreed quota. Each country has a system to integrate new arrivals seamlessly into society, with a bank account, an initial stipend and support to find employment.

Imagine schoolchildren learning about a bygone age when refugees were treated differently: confined to open-air prisons; prevented by walls and soldiers from reaching a country where they might work and earn; and, if they slip through, living in fear of the law and resented by locals. School trips go to 2016-era refugee camps, preserved for posterity, and kids are amazed that previous generations could have been so hard-hearted and fearful of their fellow humans.

Syrian refugees turned CEOs

Perhaps such a world will exist, one day. But even in optimistic moods, I cannot imagine it by 2030. So what, realistically, might the refugee situation look like then?

It will be different. In particular, Syria is likely no longer to loom so large. Perhaps many of today’s Syrian refugees will be back home, rebuilding. Many will have made successes of themselves in the West – they’ll be CEOs, often employing fellow Syrians, as refugee businesses have always done. So, if Syrian refugee flows continue in 2030, Syrian-run businesses will help mitigate the problem.

Refugees from other current hotspots – Somalia, South Sudan, Afghanistan – have lower average education levels, so their entrepreneurial success stories may be fewer by 2030. But they will exist, and these communities will be more organized than they are now and better equipped to help their countryfolk if the same countries are still producing refugees.

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Why Australia’s Youth & Political Parties Aren’t Talking

Image result for young people politics australia

As the smashed avocado debate has coined a new name for millennials, the conversation shows we are at a generational crisis point, political experts say.

New research shows young Australians are struggling to engage with major political parties on their economic policies, as they become more irrelevant for millennials.

A survey with 1200 Aussies aged between 16 and 30 revealed young people are engaging in political discourse surrounding social issues such as marriage equality, race and gender but disengage with political economic discussion.

Sydney University Professor of Political Sociology, Ariadne Vromen, said major political parties need to start addressing economic issues relevant to young Aussies such housing security and the nature of work.

“This generation is experiencing more insecurity than ever before because the nature of work is changing quite dramatically,” Vromen told The Huffington Post Australia.

“Young people are much less likely to have a permanent job, they’re much more likely to be in casual, precarious work.”

If people don’t see it as a broader social issue around intergenerational inequity then its going to be harder and harder for young people’s different lived experiences to be heard in politics.Professor Ariadne Vromen

Fifty percent of young employed Australians are in part time or casual work, said Vromen, which remains insecure. When you add this factor to the reality more young Australians are turning to rent as a long term solution, the instability becomes more prevalent.

And if you haven’t seen it already, The Guardian has pulled together an interactive articleshowing a young Aussie would need to skip more than 9000 avocado toast brunches to save up for a house deposit in Sydney.

“We don’t talk about it much because people think it’s temporary, that it will change, but where are the incentives for it change, and where are the power bases that will make a change,” Vromen said.

“There is quite a palpable anger amongst young people, but there’s also a complete lack of engagement by the major parties on this issue and how it actually effects young people in quite a different way compared to other generations.”

As more young Aussies turn to the renting as a long term solution (and $22 brunches) Vromen said major parties should be looking at solutions to further regulate the rental market.

In Europe and in the U.S, in places like New York, there is much tighter rental control where people often have more rights than the owners and I think we need to develop a better system [in Australia] for housing security.Professor Ariadne Vromen

“In Europe and in the U.S, in places like New York, there is much tighter rental control where people often have more rights than the owners and I think we need to develop a better system [in Australia] for housing security,” Vromen said.

“If people don’t see it as a broader social issue around intergenerational inequity then its going to be harder and harder for young people’s different lived experiences to be heard in politics.”

Young people, aged between 18 and 30, make up only 20 percent of the electorate and there is no longer a Minister for Youth. Vromen said the defunding of youth advocacy groups has led to young Australians’ voices dissipating in Canberra.

“Without a minister for youth advocating for it, and without peak body organisations that makes it even harder to get on the political agenda,” Vromen said.

But if the avocado debate is anything to go by, that’s just changed, as the issue came up in Parliament this week. And yes, there was an avocado presented to a senate estimates hearing.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/10/21/why-australias-youth-and-political-parties-arent-talking/

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How 4 Companies Created Successful Workplace Diversity Programs

When I first began recruiting technology staff I was placing large teams of contractors into businesses who were busily preparing for Y2K and then GST.

The stereotypical technology worker was an introverted 30 to 50 year old male, usually Caucasian, occasionally Indian. The representation of any other minority groups was just about non-existent.

And to my recollection, women represented less than 5 per cent of this army of programmers and engineers trying to save us from a pending apocalypse.

Changes in female participation has been slow and steady until recent years, and has not been a deliberate agenda item for governments, industry, organisations or education providers. This has changed.

If I had to list the consistent issues that technology leaders regularly raise with me in our discussions, ‘diversity’ is right up there with ‘people performance’, ‘project delivery’ and ‘digital transformation’ as agenda items.

Diversity is not just an issue for technology executives; it’s a societal issue. Only now are we developing enough data to fully understand the economic benefits that a deliberate and well executed diversity program can offer.

The 2016 Davidson Technology DiversIT report indicated only 31 per cent of technology (IT and digital) workers are female, and only 14 per cent are technology executives. This report offers organisations hard data that they can now develop strategies and targets against.

Today’s technology industry has a number shining examples, these organisations are more than talking about diversity as a marketing slogan.

There are some organisations in the technology industry who are putting the ‘rubber on the road’ with programs that address the issues of diversity and inclusions across the full spectrum, whether that be gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability.

Four technology organisations leading the way in this area include MYOB, REA Group, Envato and Atlassian. I spoke with each of these organisations to find out what they are doing about diversity.

James Law, HR director at Envato recommends that the first step in the process of creating a working diversity program is to acknowledge there is a problem.

“Once we publically acknowledged the problem with our people, and talked about the diversity challenge, they started to come forward with suggestions,” he said.

Nick Di’Lodovico, senior manager, talent development and diversity at REA Group, said his main recommendation is to take a holistic, long term approach.

Be clear about why you are doing it and what value it brings,” he said.

Atlassian’s global head of diversity and inclusion, Aubrey Blanche suggests that organisations should get started and collect data on the benefits of diversity and make their programs locally relevant.

Meanwhile, John Sullivan, head of delivery at MYOB recommended that a company’s diversity program needs to connect with the ‘why.’

“Diversity and inclusion statements are useless without a ‘why’, he says. “MYOB’s ‘why’ is connected with its values, ensuring happy, better functioning teams, providing opportunities for people to grow all underpinned by sound commercial benefit.”

At Envato, the diversity challenge was driven by its people, with the full support of the executive and board. Lack of diversity is problem is not solved by organisations stealing female developers from one another, says Envato’s James.

Envato’s co-founder Cyan Ta’eed, created a program called “League of Extraordinary Inclusiveness.” This would help the organisation understand which working environment would promote inclusiveness and ‘flexibility’ was identified as paramount, James said.

Today Envato operate core hours of 10am to 4pm, where people can work remotely anytime as long as they are ‘available’.

Envato also offer 18 weeks’ paid maternity leave and they have a program that assists females returning to work from maternity leave.

Ta’eed is also one of a few notable female technology leaders sharing their stories with young females to promote technology as a career and encouraging female enrolments into STEM undergraduate studies.

Policies and words are one thing, action is another. MYOB has recently implemented its DevelopHER program and Envato has its ‘Apprentice Program.’ Both initiatives are aimed at providing opportunities for females to become programmers.

Targeting those females with an interest in technology rather than skills and experience. The MYOB DevelopHER program is a 360 hour paid internship, designed to kick start careers.

Benefits beyond female participation

MYOB’s Sullivan talked about how the DevelopHER program has opportunities for MYOB beyond addressing female participation.

“This is a program that can have application across other minority groups and creating greater diversity across the fin-tech industry,” he says.

Team diversity translates to a better design and user interface and the way a team is designed will reflect the final product, says Sullivan.

“Diversity of thought is essential in designing systems for a wider market, 50 per cent of MYOB users are female so we need to design to suit that market.”

Atlassian has built significant programs focused on promoting its brand and the benefits that fit with female employees as well as promoting stories of successful Atlassian females in their ‘Women at Atlassian’ program.

Complementing this, staff have undertaken action-oriented ‘unconscious bias’ training and changes to the candidate evaluation process focussing on ‘value fit’ rather than ‘culture fit’.

As a result Atlassian is able to boast that 47 per cent of current interns and 50 per cent of the incoming graduate class are females.

During the past year, REA Group has created targeted programs to support increased workforce participation, particularly of women in leadership and technology and the LGBTI community.

Nick Di’Lodovico at REA Group explained: “We want to have an impact which extends beyond the four walls of REA Group. A lot of the work we are doing in the diversity and inclusion space is intended to benefit the community, such as our White Ribbon Accreditation or the work we are doing to be more inclusive of transgender and intersex employees.”

Envato is also focussed on supporting the LBGTI community with its program known as “Out Envato” which provides education to its people on what language is appropriate and preferred, and business policies and guidelines are written with this very much in mind. Envato is also a regular participant in the ‘Australian workforce equality index’.

Envato’s program was created by people within the business and supported by the executive team and board.

“The benefits are not just commercially sound, it’s also the right thing to do” says Envato’s Law.

He says commercial benefits are “often anecdotal, however we have seen a spike in staff engagement since our diversity programs have been launched’.

REA Group’s Di’Lodovico echoed this, saying the company had seen a 20 per cent uplift in ‘parents feeling supported in the workplace‘ and a 10 per cent jump in people feeling like we are ‘investing in a diverse & inclusive culture.’

REA Group has specific gender targets of their senior leadership team being 50 per cent women by 2018, achieving this would certainly make them an industry leader given the recent Davidson DiversIT report indicating the current industry average being a miserly 14 per cent.

Neither MYOB nor Envato have hard targets in mind for female workforce participation. Their primary reason for this is that they feel all candidates should feel they are awarded roles by merit rather than the possibility of thinking they are appointed in order to meet a company quota.

Aubrey Blanche says Atlassian do not mandate quotas but it has internal targets, and the company’s performance in this area is published on its website.

“If we truly want to make a dent in the issue we need to refocus the conversation on more meaningful indicators like team diversity and inclusiveness,” said Blanche. “That wider diversity lens needs to be met with investment in initiatives that can move those needles,” she says.

The Atlassian focus is largely on the diversity of teams rather than the entire organisation, with a specific focus in its Sydney headquarters on the distribution of women across various divisions and locations.

I am proud to be part of a technology industry that has come a long way and often leads the discussion on this issue. We have a long way to go, no doubt. However these are some excellent examples of organisations within the tech industry that other organisations and indeed other industries can learn from.

I’m looking forward to seeing what lies ahead, and seeing the tangible benefits that diversity will bring to our technology industry in Australia.

Damien Ross is director, executive engagement at Davidson Technology.

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The 10 Richest Young Australians Of 2016

Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar have topped the 2016 BRW Young Rich list with record $4.68 billion combined wealth.

The list records the wealth of Australians aged 40 and under.

The two, both aged 36, became billionaires when the company they founded, software maker Atlassian, listed on the NASDAQ in the US late last year.

The pair have topped the Young Rich list five times, jointly taking out the number 1 spot every year since 2012.

The combined wealth of the 100 members of the 2016 BRW Young Rich list has risen, with a booming property sector and technology market, to a record $12.3 billion, up from $10.6 billion last year.

Here are the rest of the top 10:

  • 3-4. Dave Greiner, 38, and Ben Richardson, 37, founders of Sydney company Campaign Monitor. They have a combined wealth of $543 million.
  • 5. Perth property developer Paul Blackburne, aged 40. His Blackburne Property Group dominates the Perth apartment market and develops three to four large apartment projects per year. His wealth is $483 million.
  • 6. Technology investor Simon Clausen, 40, who is involved in thriving tech businesses including Chinese real estate portal Juwai.com and Freelancer. $479 million.
  • 7. Melbourne property developer Tim Gurner, 34, who builds apartment projects in hip inner-city suburbs such as Collingwood and North Fitzroy. $414 million.
  • 8. Swisse Wellness CEO Radek Sali, 40, who heads a thriving business that has found huge success exporting vitamins to China. $405 million
  • 9. New York-based technology and property identity Ori Allon, 36. His real estate tech firm Compass has made a big splash disrupting the US property scene. $316 million.
  • 10. Sydney retailer and biotech founder Sam Prince, 32, who owns Mexican fast food chain Zambrero and emerging biotech company Life Letters, a genetics testing company. $294 million.

Technology is the dominant sector for 2016 with 27 people on the list, followed by financial services and retail, each with 11 young rich on the list.

The average wealth per person on the 2016 BRW Young Rich list is $123 million, up from $106 million last year.

There are 22 debutants, including Envato co-founders Collis and Cyan Ta’eed (12th, 13th) with a combined wealth of $184 million.

The youngest debutants are fitness company owners Kayla Itsines, aged 25, and Tobi Pearce, 24, (51st, 52nd with $46 million).

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Pope Francis Holds Mass For 1000 Prisoners: ‘Never Lose Hope in God’s Mercy’

Pope Francis celebrates a Jubilee mass for prisoners in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican 6 November 2016. - REUTERS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday for the Jubilee for Prisoners in Saint Peter’s Basilica, during which he reminded prison detainees to never lose hope, or fall into the temptation that they can never be forgiven.

Around 1,000 detainees from 12 countries took part in the weekend celebrations, along with their families, prison chaplains and staff, and various associations.

The Jubilee for Prisoners marks one of the final major events of the Jubilee of Mercy, which will come to an end on November 20.

Pope Francis centred his homily for Mass for the Jubilee of Prisoners on the theme of hope as it appears in the day’s Mass readings.

For instance, there are the seven brothers from the second book of Maccabees who speak about the hope of being raised again by God, and then Jesus’ response to the Sadducees, that God is not “the God of the dead, but of the living.”

“Hope is a gift of God,” and should be nourished, the Pope said.

“Whenever someone makes a mistake, the Father’s mercy is all the more present, awakening repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace.”

The Pope acknowledged that the loss of freedom experienced by detainees, is the worst part of serving time for one’s crimes. However, he urged those in prison to maintain the “breath” of hope.

The Holy Father turned to day’s reading from the letter to the Romans, in which “Paul almost seems to tell us that God too hopes”.

“His mercy gives him no rest. He is like that Father in the parable, who keeps hoping for the return of his son who has fallen by the wayside”.

“If God hopes, then no one should lose hope.  For hope is the strength to keep moving forward.  It is the power to press on towards the future and a changed life.  It is the incentive to look to tomorrow, so that the love we have known, for all our failings, can show us a new path.”

Pope Francis spoke of the “hypocrisy” of those who see prisoners only as “wrongdoers”, and who disregard the possibility of rehabilitation.

Going off the cuff from his prepared homily, the Pope said how every time he enters a prison, he asks himself: “‘Why them and not I?’ All of us have the possibility of making mistakes.”

The Holy Father reminded those in prison to not be held “captive” by their past mistakes, and “never yield to the temptation of thinking that we cannot be forgiven.”

Pope Francis turned his reflection to the importance of forgiveness among those who have experienced violence or abuse against themselves or their loved ones.

Acknowledging that there are some wounds that only God can heal, the Pope said that, nonetheless, “when violence is met with forgiveness, even the hearts of those who have done wrong can be conquered by the love that triumphs over every form of evil.”

“In this way, among the victims and among those who wronged them, God raises up true witnesses and workers of mercy.”

Pope Francis concluded his reflection by turning to the statue of Our Lady of Mercy, an image of Mary with the child Jesus, who is holding a set of chains.

“May she intercede for you, so that your hearts can experience the power of hope for a new life, one worthy of being lived in complete freedom and in service to your neighbour.”

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/11/06/pope_francis_to_prisoners_never_lose_hope_in_god%E2%80%99s_mercy/1270460

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