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Gen Y Tech Savvy, But Not Interested in a Career 593

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the why-when-i-was-that-age dept.
jcatcw writes "Young people aren't choosing computer science majors because they take technology for granted — it's something to use not something to make a career. "By and large, this generation is very fluent with technology and with a networked world," according to James Ware, executive producer at The Work Design Collaborative LLC, a Berkeley, Calif., consortium exploring workplace values and the future of the workforce. That future may be in managing technology, which requires skills today's college students don't have: writing, critical thinking, hard work and just plain showing up. One of their primary concerns is a flexible schedule and healthy work/life balance."
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Gen Y Tech Savvy, But Not Interested in a Career

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  • Lazy Kids ! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Irish-DnB (161087) * on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:44AM (#21099753) Homepage
    good. If this bears out then those of us out of college can charge more and more to keep everything running.
    • Re:Lazy Kids ! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rikitikitembo (1146771) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:49AM (#21099831)
      Yes, if only I could charge the Doctor or the Lawyer what he charges me when I fix his computer.
      • Re:Lazy Kids ! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:42AM (#21100637)
        Doctors and Lawyers have a government mandated monopoly. You want to be paid the same? Lobby for official certification, or similar.

         
      • Re:Lazy Kids ! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) * <.slashdot.kadin. .at. .xoxy.net.> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:44AM (#21100669) Homepage Journal

        Yes, if only I could charge the Doctor or the Lawyer what he charges me when I fix his computer.
        It's a question of ease of replacement. If it was as hard to find a computer technician as it was to find a doctor or a lawyer, you would be able to charge that much.

        In the case of both law and medicine, they have professional associations that basically work to control the 'supply' of professionals in the field. (Well, the Bar Associations aren't doing too hot lately, which is why the market has flooded, but they used to be better.) If it weren't for the AMA, doctors probably wouldn't be paid all that well, either. Think of all the other people in the medical field -- nurses, technicians/technologists, etc. -- very few of them are paid as well as actual doctors, because it's hard to become a doctor and there are certain functions that are legally restricted only to doctors.

        If you could get a lot of IT workers together and establish an "Information Technologists Guild" and bribe enough politicians into making it illegal for anyone not in the guild to open the case of a computer, then turn around and make it nearly impossible to join the guild, you'd probably make a fortune, too.
        • Re:Lazy Kids ! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by The Only Druid (587299) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:53AM (#21100785)
          The ABA did a better job controlling the supply of lawyers back before we lost a lawsuit which accused us of what was basically illegal monopoly/trust activities (it's a bit more complicated than that, though).

          In short, the ABA had worked to prevent law schools from proliferating to the point it's at today (nearly two hundred law schools!) in order to keep the field from being glutted with unintelligent and uneducated lawyers. Once the ABA was denied the ability to restrict the number of law schools, every crappy school in the country wanted a law school. Law schools typically have enormous cost/benefit ratios, due to the limited start-up cost and high return on investment (i.e. profitability of alumni). While this remained true initially, the crappier schools popping up today are failing at that too, dragging their schools even further down.

          You want fewer crappy lawyers? Lobby to allow the ABA to get back to its job of keeping those people out of our field.
          • Re:Lazy Kids ! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @12:24PM (#21101253)
            Most legal activity should not be performed by lawyers.

            Just as business people simplify IT that requires specialists and is repetative, we should simplify legal activities that require specilists but happen repetatively.

            Seriously-- 99% of divorces could be handled by a "divorce specialist" who would make 60 grand a year instead of 120 grand a year. Law has gotten so big, it needs to be broken down and streamlined.
          • Re:Lazy Kids ! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Marsell (16980) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @03:37PM (#21104017) Homepage

            > You want fewer crappy lawyers? Lobby to allow the ABA to get back to its job of keeping those people out of our field.

            I have a better idea: let's change things to make lawyers less needed in the first place.

            I used to be in law school, and this is what I concluded before moving to a profession that produces value, not consumes it:

            a) Ignorance is not a defense, but
            b) It's easy to violate a law, often regardless of mens rea.

            Why is b) true? Because thanks to our wonderful common-law system, there's an ungodly number of statutes. These statutes are inter-related, not necessarily the way you'd expect, and the relationships are often only implied. Of course, it's not just enough to know what's on the books, but also know how their interpretation has been modified by precedents (and not just local precedents either; judgments from overseas can have an effect too). How is anybody other than some specialist in the area supposed to untangle that? So we have people who acted in what they believed to be a lawful manner being punished. I find it particularly charming when even legal experts are largely clueless outside their area of specialization. In fact, I'm charmed by the number of specialists who don't even know their own specialization all that well. This isn't a problem of education, this is a problem of out-of-control complexity.

            You'd expect that every citizen of society should clearly understand what is expected of them, right? If they break a law, which they of course knew about, there are repercussions. This is just. Instead you have cases being decided on fine nuances of meaning of single words thanks to whatever crazed set of precedent and statute some team of lawyers was able to drag together, rationalized by the excuse that it's a living law. Now toss in lawyers who charge sums of money that is beyond the reach of most people (and pro bono is a risible excuse to protect your guilty consciousness', because you fuckers almost never do it except for friends or cases that'll improve your visibility), and who only benefit by dragging cases out, and we have a problem. A few hundred to a few thousand dollars for a simple printout of some old template in your local copy of wordperfect or word, and it's not just a problem, it's pathetic unadulterated greed at everyone else's expense.

            In short, to your profession and those of you who 'graduated' to politics: fuck you. You're a leech on society and promulgate a fundamentally unjust and morally-repugnant system. I don't know how you sleep at night -- while your new associates naively slave away of course. If Diogenes was to wander into a law firm you'd try to sell him a lamp for $5,000, and yet you're supposed to help propagate justice?

            Advice for the rest of you: never use a lawyer unless the amount is -- or worth -- millions. Just move on; you'll save yourself much grief and debt.

            • Re:Lazy Kids ! (Score:4, Insightful)

              by lgw (121541) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @04:04PM (#21104369) Journal
              The criminal code must be limited to what can be taught in a single semester high school class, and understood in that time by typical high school students. If a criminal law is not widely known and understood, how does it serve any useful purpose? Laws known only to experts serve only totalitarianism.
      • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @12:05PM (#21100983) Journal
        >what he charges me when I fix his computer.

        He charges you to fix his computer?
        That job *sucks*.
    • This reminds me of a dilbert...

      The PHB is talking to a class of kids, and talking about how he mistreats and abuses them.
      Then a kid asks "How long will my Generation have to work? 6 months?"
      The PHB replies "60 years"
      All the kids have horrified looks and the PHB says, "I see you've made the connection"
    • Right at the moment, people that work in IT aren't exactly a majority of the populous. As a percentage of the whole workforce, I'd be willing to bet that people keeping these systems running and designing new ones are a small fraction of the population. People that now, and have always been interested in the 'nuts and bolts' side of technology are always going to be around in the same relative quantities as they were before.
  • by superwiz (655733) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:45AM (#21099757) Journal
    Is plainly not taught anymore. Most people don't even remember how logic was taught for the past 2000 years.... geometry.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JeepFanatic (993244)
      I wish I had mod points right now to mod this up. I've been telling people for years how Geometry was one of the things that helped me most with logical/critical thinking - specifically with a bent toward programming.
    • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@optonli ... inus threevowels> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:06AM (#21100099) Journal

      Indeed. School used to be filled with logic and reasoning -- kids had to learn to think. Now schools are more interested in childrens' self-esteem and socialization. Frankly, part of the problem is that the newest crop of teachers don't know logic or have excellent critical reasoning skills. As each generation passes, we get further from the Aristotelian virtues and knowledge becomes more watered-down.

      Nowhere is that more borne out than in computer programming. Logic is the backbone of programming and if you haven't got a decent grounding in it, your coding skills are going to be atrocious, no matter what language you use. I remember when I was going to school to about 8 years ago to get a programming certification so I could shift careers. There I was, in my mid-30s with 18-year-olds all around, who were more interested in Napster and trying to download porn onto the school computers than actually learning the skills they needed. They used to razz me quite a bit, but I got through the whole set of courses with a 4.0 because I had the logical background that made going from pseudo-code to finished program easier.

      Until we get back to teaching fundamental reasoning skills in school, each succeeding generation is going to take their environment more and more for granted, and understand it less and less.

      • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@gma ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:29AM (#21100443) Homepage
        School used to be filled with logic and reasoning -- kids had to learn to think.

        When on earth did this happen? You think an elementary school in 1950 was a sort of mini-Lyceum? It's always been rote memorization and paperwork.

        Now schools are more interested in childrens' self-esteem and socialization.

        Ridiculous. Schools these days are obsessed with test results and cramming the ability to do these tests into the kids' heads. That whole self-esteem thing has been out of vogue for a while.

        Frankly, part of the problem is that the newest crop of teachers don't know logic or have excellent critical reasoning skills.

        I will agree that teachers today are probably not, on the average, as talented as they used to be. This is a result of the fact that for most of this country's history, 50% of the population was limited in their careers. If you were smart, female, and wanted an education, you were very likely to end up as a teacher. This isn't something that you can go back to, though.

        As each generation passes, we get further from the Aristotelian virtues and knowledge becomes more watered-down.

        I just don't buy it. I think there are serious deficiencies in our education system but I don't buy the idea that as you go back you find a better and better one.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BytePusher (209961)

          I just don't buy it. I think there are serious deficiencies in our education system but I don't buy the idea that as you go back you find a better and better one.


          Perhaps one test of this is to look at art from previous periods of time. Especially what art becomes popular.
        • by haplo21112 (184264) <.moc.anhtipe. .ta. .olpah.> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @12:41PM (#21101487) Homepage
          The schools don't even want talent, they don't want teachers who think, or who deviate from the prepared way they (the existing teachers and administration) have decided things should be done. My wife made a job change from high tech that was burning her out to being a teacher. What she has found is that despite her clear success in two different school systems now (State of MA, the famous MCAS tests) they are not interested in her brand of teaching.

          She got kids who had previously failed the MCAS tests to pass and not just pass, but pass by a wide margin...but she taught to a each child's needs and learning style. She stood up for the laws for the national laws and state laws for the special needs for the children she taught. A host of other things that the schools systems just plain didn't like.

          She was actually told to do what it ever it took pass kids, and by this I mean fudging test grades and class grades, pass them at all costs even if they don't deserve to pass...I'm not talking about the 64-65 one point bubble here...more like 23! Shock when kids acted like assholes, didn't do their work, and didn't make an effort she gave them failing grades, suggested they stay back...Oh My God! Think of Child! Last year, one parent WANTED the kid to stay back because of failing grades, the school system overrode the parent's opinion on the matter. Despite the parent's opinion and failing grades in 4 classes the kid was passed on to the next grade. Not even summer school required!
      • by bobobobo (539853) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @12:49PM (#21101595)
        Indeed, children these days are clearly lacking in theology and geometry. Their lack of logic and materialistic endeavors casts doubt upon their very souls! I would regale you with some astute philosophical musings from Boethius, however Lady Fortuna's wheel has spun me downwards and my closed valve is causing me to bloat. To the lavatory I go to seek respite!
    • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:08AM (#21100139) Journal
      Critical thinking...Is plainly not taught anymore.

      Oh, plainly! Why, unsupported assertions that critical thinking is dead among These Lousy Kids Today hardly bear questioning!

    • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@gma ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:09AM (#21100143) Homepage
      Is plainly not taught anymore. Most people don't even remember how logic was taught for the past 2000 years.... geometry.

      Though honestly, a very large percentage of people over the past 2000 years weren't really taught anything. Formal education has never been universal, and honestly I've been to senior citizens centers and believe it or not they don't spend their days discussing complex philosophical issues. The percentage of people who have the ability to think logically is pretty small, and of those only a percentage have the requisite training to really think critically. It's always been that way.
    • by Erris (531066) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:12AM (#21100187) Homepage Journal

      Critical thinking Is plainly not taught anymore.

      It's something you have to learn but can not be taught. Logic, history, facts, and opinions may be taught, but thought comes from experience and reflection. The more someone tells you they are going to teach you "critical thinking skills" the more you know they are going to try to indoctrinate you. The majority of people who think they can teach you critical thinking, lack the skill themselves.

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:14AM (#21100223) Homepage

      Geometry teachers drive '95 Corollas; marketing executives drive this year's BMW.

      Using geometric principles, calculate the magnitude of the hotness of the women that each can attract.

  • "In my day . . ." (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:47AM (#21099803)
    Yep, seems like pretty much every "new" generation gets the slam from the ones who came before. Us Gen X'ers were cast off as a bunch of slackers IIRC. In ten years we'll have some snotty Gen Y writer blasting the lazy post-college Gen Z's and ranting how the greedy Gen X'ers will consume the last remaining Social Security resources. Definitely nothing new to see here.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Ask anyone what the best music era was and the inevitable reply is "It was the era when *I* was young."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CRCulver (715279)

        Ask anyone what the best music era was and the inevitable reply is "It was the era when *I* was young."

        Far from it. I was born in 1981, yet I think that the best music era was the 1950s to the 1970s for the amount of great contemporary music it produced compared to now. Figures like Boulez, Stockhausen, and Norgard were able to evolve their art because of much greater funding for the arts than is available now. There is still great music being written, but performances are less frequent in many countrie

      • I agree 100% -- though I shudder in combined horror, pity and hilarity imagining a generation who thinks that today is the "best music era." :-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Dude... I grew up in the 80s. While a lot of the 80s music had a good beat that you can dance to, it definitely was not the best music era. In fact, even the 90s when I was a teenager didn't have all that great music (it seems like that was mostly a reaction to all that overproduced synth stuff that came out in the 80s). My vote: the 60s, simply for the originality, but I'm getting OT. :)

        In any case, you and the parent are right in that lot of stuff just repeats itself, but some doen't. Look at the
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hoi Polloi (522990)
          One problem with idealizing music from the 60s or 70s is that we only are aware of the best music to come from those years. Do a little digging and you'll find LOTS of crap and cheezy music that hasn't stood the test of time. People may do the same to current music years from now because the best work will be filtered out for them.
  • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:48AM (#21099809)
    I work with Generation Y'ers and they aren't so "fluent with technology" that they don't need to get a CS education. Most of them still don't know the difference between RAM and a HD. They don't even know the units used to calculate the amount of RAM or the speed of a computer. Obviously, there are exceptions, but it's been my experience in a middle-class community of Gen Y kids that they don't know jack about a computer. Can they use an IPod? sure... but so can my 60 year old mom, big deal. That's like saying my Grandma used to be "fluent with technology" because she could use a typewriter back in the day. Having the ability to use it and having the ability to make it are two totally different things.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Agreed. The other day, I asked my Generation Y stepdaughter about her new computer and asked "What's it got?" "I dunno." "How much RAM?" "I dunno." "CPU? Dual core? Clock speed?" "I dunno. I used to know all that stuff, but I just use it now."

      OTOH, she's acutely aware of the fact that floppy drives are now obsolete, a fact that still hasn't seemed to seep into my techie stepson's fool head.
      • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@optonli ... inus threevowels> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:15AM (#21100237) Journal

        Which is the disconnect between technology and the mass market. The customer does not want to know how the computer works -- they only want it to work when they get it out of the box. Mind you, processor speed and hard drive are such that they really aren't the most critical factors in buying a PC anymore for your average user.

        This is why Microsoft rules the software landscape, Linux is finding it difficult to make inroads into the PC market, and why Apple has everybody enamored with the iPod. Familiarity breeds contempt, and contempt breeds lack of understanding. All the customer knows is that their laptop works when they turn it out and Windows pops up, and they can use that to load songs on their iPod. The behind-the-scenes does not interest them, which is why the general populace doesn't have a clue about Net Neutrality or DRM.

        I ascribe it to the fall of the hobbyist. In the heady days at the beginning of PC age, when guys were buying Altair kits and Ham radio ruled, I think there was a higher level of curiosity. But now I don't think ham radio clubs, computer clubs, or even astronomy clubs are popular anymore, given the instant access to information we have now. I see this trend continuing as long as technology does not require the user to put any thought into it.

    • by fullmetal55 (698310) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:06AM (#21100105)
      I think what they meant is they're fluent with the USE of technology. Back in the 50s, most men knew how to fix their car, not just drive it. now most people take their car to a mechanic to fix when it breaks, sure they're more complex now, but that fits the comparison with technology too. The same thing is happening here with computers and technology. in the 90s, more computer users had at least an understanding of what went on under the hood. now, most people who use them, consider them closed boxes, and take them to a tech (mechanic) to fix when it breaks. sure the excuse is they're more complex under the hood, but the real reason is nobody wants to be bothered with how it works, they just want it to work. As Douglas Adams said, the three stages of civilization are "How", "Why", and "Where". How do computers work? (up to the 90s, still ongoing but less so) Why do computers work (current, figuring out what they're good for, developing products etc.), Where? most likely "where is it useful?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jollyreaper (513215)

      I work with Generation Y'ers and they aren't so "fluent with technology" that they don't need to get a CS education. Most of them still don't know the difference between RAM and a HD. They don't even know the units used to calculate the amount of RAM or the speed of a computer. Obviously, there are exceptions, but it's been my experience in a middle-class community of Gen Y kids that they don't know jack about a computer. Can they use an IPod? sure... but so can my 60 year old mom, big deal. That's like saying my Grandma used to be "fluent with technology" because she could use a typewriter back in the day. Having the ability to use it and having the ability to make it are two totally different things.

      Yeah, it's kind of like how in scifi stories you get some hyper-advanced alien or a human from the future stuck in our low-tech world and the assumption is "Wow, you can show us all your future tech!" And the reality is more like "Um, no. I can use the technology of my society but don't ask me to try to recreate it from scratch. Hell, I couldn't even maintain it myself."

      What I find is that people are very adept at using technology in a seemingly educated and knowing manner but are often at a loss for the h

    • by GogglesPisano (199483) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:30AM (#21100449)
      This generation literally grew up with computers and the internet. It would be much more surprising if they didn't become accustomed to using the stuff that has been all around them. The same could be said of any previous generation's adoption of new technology (printed books, locomotives, telephones, automobiles, you name it).

      That said, there is a huge difference between the superficial use of technology and an understanding of the principals that drive it. Most teenagers know how to use IM, but very few could tell you how it works.

      Chris Dodge is one student who certainly has his tech credentials in line. Thanks to his parents, both of whom worked in the tech sector, Dodge has been exposed to PCs since birth and knows enough to design and launch a blog, produce a podcast, or shoot, edit and post a YouTube video.

      No offense meant to the aforementioned Chris Dodge, but I would argue that his skills are more due to internet-era osmosis than some deep technical ability. The fact that a fish swims in water does not make it an expert in fluid dynamics.
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @12:32PM (#21101343) Homepage

      This reminds me of an experience I had a couple years ago. My cousin (who is about 16 now) wanted to install some game on his computer. It was a Windows XP machine with a normal install wizard, and he was held up by some error or another. It wasn't a big deal so I don't even remember what the problem was, but it got me thinking.S

      I remembered being a kid, trying to play the latest Space Quest game from Sierra, and having to figure out which sound card I should choose during the install. My actual soundcard wasn't on the list, so I had to guess which one was more compatible, and it was a bit of trial and error. I remembered having to write custom AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files for different games to load different TSRs, and use different options of EMM386 or HIMEM.SYS. I remembered how impressed I was with myself when I figured out how to use AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS to make a little menu system that allowed me to choose the configuration I wanted while it was booting. I remembered trying to write little BASIC and Pascal programs to do things because... well, computers didn't do that much. I wasn't using my computer to store my music collection or watch movies. The big thing for me to do with computers in those days (besides playing games) was just to screw around with the computer to see what I could get it to do.

      And it kind of made me sad that my cousin would never go through that. Sure, he'll be more computer savvy than my grandparents because he's grown up with computers, but he'll probably never understand computers as well as he would have if he were a few years older. Working in IT for a few years, it seems like the most helpful people are those who are young enough that they had computers when they were kids (and therefore grew up thinking about them), but old enough to have experimented with computers back when they weren't so easy.

  • by Stanistani (808333) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:48AM (#21099821) Homepage Journal
    Remember when people would go around saying "I work with computers" when asked what their job was?
    Now that would sound like "I work with paper."
  • Most of you will be too young to remember "computer literacy" classes which strove to teach students how to use computers. The idea was that if you could use a word processor, spreadsheet, and touch type, then you'd be prepared for the careers of tomorrow.

    It's all bullshit. God help us if "data processor" and "data entry clerk" are careers of the future. The ability to use a computer is about as important to "jobs of the future!" as knowing how to husk coconuts is to a Pacific Islander. If you haven't learn
    • by superwiz (655733)

      Most of you will be too young to remember "computer literacy" classes which strove to teach students how to use computers.
      Too young to remember? Ha! I made some money 2 Summers ago by teaching one of those. Are you calling me old? Oh, my God, I am old... goes away sobbing.
    • by p0tat03 (985078)

      The idea was that if you could use a word processor, spreadsheet, and touch type, then you'd be prepared for the careers of tomorrow.

      Not so bullshit really. Try getting a job without knowing how to do the above. I don't think anybody ever implied that data processing was *all* you needed to know for your future career, but going without it certainly wasn't going to help.

      I think you are confusing the definition of literacy. Someone that can read is literate, he doesn't need to know how to pen a novel, nor does he even need to be able to analyze the grammatical structure of someone's writing - all they need to do is be able to read and

  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:49AM (#21099829)

    These stories simply reflect the fact that, for any value of N, people in generation N-1 generally do not understand technology that became available during the childhood of generation N. This does not make generation N more technically savvy than generation N-1; by the time generation N+1 comes around, generation N will not understand the stuff they have. This was just as true for the baby boomers using remote controls and VCRs that their parents couldn't understand as it is for me using computers that the boomers have trouble with. It didn't mean that the boomers were geniuses because they could use a VCR.

    Probably sort of like how my mom can't figure out the internet really well, which I think is rather simple; on the other hand, I can't understand the compulsion 'them darned kids' have for constantly text messaging each other.

    Just because you can use mass-market electronic goods does not make one 'technically savvy'.

    • by Raul654 (453029)
      I take issue with your implication that "tech savvy" means is the same thing as "I enjoy this technology". I think it would be much better to define it as technical plasticity - the ability to learn to competently use new technologies. And by that definition, yes, I think younger generations are much more tech savvy than older people. You might not like text messaging, but you figured out how to do it -- which is something most older people can't figure out for themselves.
  • "One of their primary concerns is a flexible schedule and healthy work/life balance."

    Apparently Generation Taco lacks basic counting skills.
  • Generation Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:51AM (#21099853)
    I read an interesting science fiction story a few years ago (think it was in Asimov's or "Year's Best Scifi") called "Generation Why." It posited an interesting look at a future generation that scorned the work ethic of its preceding generation because it simply didn't believe in money, material possessions, and work for their own sake. This "generation why" essentially asked the question "Why should we break our backs working long hours away from our families just to have a 9,000 square foot house and a big SUV?", "Why should I learn things that aren't going to make me a better person?", "Why should I work a job that I hate just for a higher salary?", etc.

    Of course, this idea is nothing new. Every generation goes through a very similar idealistic phase. Generation Y is now entering its early 20's, and it's likely that this is the phase they're beginning to go through right now. So it's hardly surprising that they're rejecting formal instruction in a field that they already feel very comfortable in (as self-taught learners). Just part of them "finding their way."

    Just a thought.

    • by CRCulver (715279)

      It posited an interesting look at a future generation that scorned the work ethic of its preceding generation because it simply didn't believe in money, material possessions, and work for their own sake.

      It's far from science-fiction. This shift in thinking has been blamed for the shaky economy of Japan in the last 15 years. The older generations worked themselves to death for the sake of their families and for their social standing. The younger generations started wanting more flexibility and fewer hours

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:08AM (#21100129) Homepage
      Yeah, I was going to read that story, but then I thought, meh, what would it achieve?
    • Re:Generation Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @12:56PM (#21101707)
      This "generation why" essentially asked the question "Why should we break our backs working long hours away from our families just to have a 9,000 square foot house and a big SUV?", "Why should I learn things that aren't going to make me a better person?", "Why should I work a job that I hate just for a higher salary?", etc.

      Why should we?

      I know plenty of Gen X'ers and Baby Boomers who feel the same way. Most of the fell into line but they thought the same exact thing and actually a few say "No more!" and just live simple lives.

      Personally, I have a job that I don't like that pays a lot, but I don't have a big house and my car is a 90's POS and I feel no need to buy a 50" flatscreen TV just to watch talking heads and men throw a leather ball around as a conversation topic. I'm old enough to be a Gen X'er but this idea of rejecting societal norm has been around for ages.

      Its more prominent now with a bit of healthy nihilism when you take a global perspective to things. In the end, you are going to die and won't be able to take any of your wealth and knowledge with you. Eventually, your kids are going to die and someday there won't be any one around to remember you so what you do today is more important that long term which humans have a bad habbit of thinking that the status quo will last forever.

      I mean... My dad worked himself to death in a job he hated for 30 years just to make it to retirement. I was worried there for a while that he would die before he would even get to enjoy that time. I'm sure many people have seen their family members die and all their plans and goals have been thrown out that window.

      Maybe, its the realization that working for money is not the end goal. You should really take the job that you like and the one that allows you to be with your family and accept that you don't need all that stuff you can't take with you that will go into a landfill someday as it is.

      Either way... Its not learning new skills to make us a better person, but rather the old skills like moderation and patience.
  • Sign of the times... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by decipher_saint (72686) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:51AM (#21099857) Homepage
    I was on the bus the other day and there were some high school bimbos (let's not waste words here) and they were all a twitter about the goings on of their MySpace accounts. On and on they yammered about which boys they liked and who's on what list and then they started talking about CSS, that is to say Cascading Style Sheets.

    There is a point in your life when you realize that the world has changed, that "nerdy" topics aren't so nerdy anymore, especially now that they are in the mainstream.

    Generation Y (ugh!) is undeniably using the tools around them to get things done, just as my generation did a decade ago with more primitive technology. But suffice to say, the reason to get a job in the tech industry is not because you want to play with what you're already using but because you want to create something new. This is not for everyone and I think regardless of the "tech level" society seems to achieve there will always be a minority of tech-career oriented people.
  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:54AM (#21099917) Homepage Journal
    I think a lot of this attitude is the fault of how we've raised the past generation or so...

    Unlike how we grew up....many of today's kids don't play outside much. They don't get out and meet and interact with the kids in the neighborhood, which teaches some good people skills. It also starts engendering a sense of independence. Parents cart the around to planned, and rigidly structured events...soccer practice, lessons of some kind, etc.

    We've also sapped out the competitive spirit that kids once had. We played games...there were winners and losers. You had to learn both sides of the coin. Now...we give everyone a trophy because the just participated. We lower the standards in classrooms, 'cause we don't want to hurt little Billy/Susie's self esteem. We teach the wrong things here...the real world is NOT like that, it is not one big happy area where everyone is equal, and treated equal. That has to be quite a shock. We've let kids slide too far with respect to discipline. While I'm not talking specifically about corporal punishment (I don't think throwing that out the door was good either), but, personal discipline...responsibility for actions. If kids screw up, Mom and Dad cover for them....I've heard teachers saying when they had a child acting up, and could actually get a parent in for a conference, the teacher gets berrated over accusing little Johnny of wrongdoing, rather than trying to work together to correct his behavior. Of course later little Johnny expects he'll be covered/forgiven if he's late for work, or just doesn't show up a day for some reason.

    Do kids even work these days in high school? As soon as I was 16...I got my first job washing dishes in a medium end restaurant...I worked my way up to head bus boy (even back then in my state you had to be 21 to serve alcohol)...I worked Fri-Sat. evenings....and usually 2 week nights. I saved my money, and when I was a senior, my folks added a little money to mine, and I bought my first car (datsun 280Z). I don't know of any of my friends whose kids actually work jobs....everything is given.

    I'd say a lot of this is the past gen. or so's fault....and these kids are in for a shock when they hit the real world.

    • by mrjb (547783) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:01AM (#21100031)
      Unlike how we grew up....many of today's kids don't play outside much. They don't get out and meet and interact with the kids in the neighborhood, which teaches some good people skills.
      How is this unlike how we grew up?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pla (258480)
      I'd say a lot of this is the past gen. or so's fault....and these kids are in for a shock when they hit the real world.

      Though I agree, I wouldn't use the word "fault"... More like "success". And like it or not, the "real world" needs to accomodate the next generation, not the other way around).

      Don't confuse "I don't live to work, I work to live" with a misplaced sense of entitlement, they very much differ. Employers need to come to terms with that fact, and adjust accordingly (or fade into oblivion as
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:55AM (#21099925) Homepage
    There is a video professor ad where a woman laughs that her four year old is often more comfortable with a computer than she is. A lot of older people just don't realize that **comfort** is not a particularly big deal. Yes, most middle and upper class people in Gen Y are "comfortable with a computer" and other gadgets. So what? When I was in college two years ago, it didn't stop many of them from making many of the same mistakes that their equally **computer illiterate** parents made like not updating their software and trusting everything that came into their inbox that didn't look automatically like spam.

    So you can plug your iPod in and sync up your media collection with it. How is that a practical use of your computer, the sort of thing that drives the economy?

    I have to wonder... were there ever articles like this talking about basic skills like driving? "Younger generation more comfortable with horseless carriage?" Being able to use a computer? BFD. Who cares. Being able to write software, integrate components and mess with hardware are the skills that stand out.
    • by phorest (877315)

      How is that a practical use of your computer, the sort of thing that drives the economy?

      They bought the iPod and all the accessories and music to fill it with! (well, some of that music perhaps...)

  • by MMaestro (585010) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:55AM (#21099929)
    That future may be in managing technology, which requires skills today's college students don't have: writing, critical thinking, hard work and just plain showing up.

    Or maybe, today's college students are wising up to the fact that most businesses work their tech staff to the bone dumbing down reports so their managers could understand them, following step-by-step instructions for an hour when they could fix it in 5 minutes if given the chance and if managers didn't call their IT staff on their vacations/weekends to help fix the e-mail server cause someone decided to change the settings without IT approval.

    I've heard of far, far too many IT stories from my friends and on /. to even consider going into IT as a career. IT is not the dream job many people believe it to be. Anyone who runs a simply network for a friend(s)/family knows how annoying it can be to get a random phone call from someone asking for help to access their e-mail.

  • One of their primary concerns is a flexible schedule and healthy work/life balance.

    That is one of my primary concerns, and I am a Gen-X'r. I think more and more companies that are heavy into software development are starting to recognize that people want a flexible, comfortable workplace and an employer that realizes that adding perks, like flex-hours, casual dress code, telecommuting, more vacation, etc. can balance a crappy/mediocre salary and make up for other short-comings. In many instances adding perks can be a cheap way to attract(and keep existing) talent to your company with

  • Crappy writer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KevinIsOwn (618900) <herrkevin&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:57AM (#21099953) Homepage
    From TFA:

    While they may not possess the tech skills of old -- expertise in outdated areas like NetWare, Cobol, even ColdFusion programming -- this new generation packs a punch with mastery of things like HTML programming and a complete comfort level with business basics like Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel, not to mention Web 2.0 advances like blogging and social networking.
    How does knowing HTML pack a punch in comparison with COBOL? Does this writer even know how all these "Web 2.0 advances" are being made? And even though I wouldn't use ColdFusion, that's one way blogs and social network sites get created. This writer is incredibly unqualified to be writing any article about technology. This isn't the only stupid line in there.
  • by misanthrope101 (253915) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @10:57AM (#21099957)
    Familiarity with Facebook and Bittorrent is different than choosing a career as a programmer or network administrator. Familiarity is not maintenance and/or development. The number of people familiar with using automobiles is a little larger than the number who choose a career as a mechanic.
  • As a sysop, it was immensely frustrating to work with users who have no idea how computers work. They wanted somebody else to figure out what they had to do and if something unexpected happened they wouldn't think through it. As a mathematician, it's immensely frustrating to teach non-majors who strongly object to having to think (or understand) anything -- they want to be given algorithms they can apply (and don't realize that these algorithms only work for exam problems specifically engineered for their

  • "Young people aren't choosing computer science majors because they take technology for granted -- it's something to use not something to make a career. "By and large, this generation is very fluent with technology and with a networked world..."

    Good. I hate to sound elitist, and god knows that I'm hardly the hottest stuff on the block (I work with a ton of people smarter than I am), but am I the only one who remembers when the CS field was flooded by people whose chief qualifications were Microsoft Word and

  • by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:03AM (#21100069) Journal
    Look, kids, I'm what they call a "boomer" [kuro5hin.org]. They call us that because fireworks and guns were legal when we were kids. What? Speak up, I can't hear you! We were also known as "goddamned potsmoking hippies" [kuro5hin.org].

    The next generation was called "generation X" or alternately "Goddamned cocaine-soaked Yuppies".

    The next generation was Generation Y. They're also known as "Goddamn punks", "Sales Clerks", "fry cooks", "outsourced and unemployed" and "crackheads".

    So your nomenclature is a bit off. These kids would be known as "Generation Z" IINM. Also known as "GODDAMNED KIDS GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN!"

    -mcgrew
  • I reverse engineer everthing. I've dissambled TVs, radios, computers, ICs (designed them too), cellphones, computer programs, file formats, whatever. Being superficially familar with technology for any age group doesnt cut it. That is the nature of true technical nerdness.
  • ...who got yelled at for being lazy hippies are yelling at their own kids for being lazy techno-hippies.

    Sounds like The Curse (When you have kids, they'll be just like you were) is continuing to work just fine.
  • by sjwaste (780063) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:13AM (#21100207)
    From my perspective as a mid-twentysomething, I agree with this entirely. I went away to college and quickly lost interest in pursuing CS or CE, Math, Physics, or any of the hard sciences, really. The kicker for me was the lack of a solid career path, and the way the folks that studied these subjects were treated in terms of on-campus recruiting, job fairs, etc. Meanwhile, business majors had no problems finding work, especially those who had some technical skills on the side. So I joined them, sort of, and ended up with a business degree in economics.

    Coming out and looking for work, I was basically doing applied statistics, writing code for models and such, but would not even have been interviewed without the business degree. The bottom line is that someone with a stats degree could've done the work as specified, but they wanted to hire people who could write the models based on the business problem at hand (interpret it into a regression model basically, find out how to source the data to run it, write it, interpret the findings for management, etc). And I've done this for two different companies, so there's a chance it's not a unique hiring thing.

    So I wonder, are people of my generation rejecting the idea of CS and other sciences, but using the concepts they learned from a few courses they took in that department in a business setting? If that's the case, like myself, I'd argue that the change is an emphasis on the application of these skills to business, not an abandonment in their education.

    I'm really happy doing what I do, and while I probably lack the theoretical knowledge that a PhD in Statistics would have, my analysis in the business context is what's really being sought -- and I'm strong in that. I'm finishing up a law degree at night now, so I really can't wait to see how the technical skills apply in that profession. Lawyers are largely so tech/scientifically averse that they don't even consider the application of those skills in hiring, I've found. But the lawyers I've worked with here who have the tech or science background are tons better at their job. So what's it gonna be?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I'm kind of a late-twentysomething, and I started a CS degree and didn't really like it, either. I realized pretty quickly that even though I was very interested in computers, the CS degree wasn't really for me. In what was perhaps a strange move, I ended up majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Literature. Go figure.

      What might have been more surprising, though, was what happened when I got out of college. I took a job working as a helpdesk tech. Having worked with CS graduates and people with a bunc

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:27AM (#21100415)
    I know somebody is going to say that he has a great job, and they can never get rid of him, yada yada. But, that doesn't mean anyting.

    What about people just entering the field? What about 5 years from now, or 10 years from now?

    Who want's to spend $80K on a college education, and work their ass off. Then, toil for entry level wages for another 5 years, only to train their $5/hour replacements in the Ukraine, or whatever? Great "career" right?

    Most IT work is tedious, and unimporant. The pay, at best, is nothing special. And employers seem to have an never-ending list of requirements, even for an "entry level" job.

    I think it's safe to say that there are better career choices.
  • by EraseEraseMe (167638) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:33AM (#21100519)
    After the dotcom implosion, a flood of 'highly-trained' prima-donnas entered the workforce, many of them with A+ Certification or an MCSE and an expectation that they should be running the joint within 5 years. On top of that, wages dropped. Why would I want to slave for 12 hours a day in a data centre when I can leverage the skills I learned as a techie to improve the job I do in other departments? Computers ARE just tools, and the idea that a career in computers should be something to aspire to, is like saying a career in waste management is something to aspire to. People should aspire to a career that they will enjoy, not necessarily a career that someone expects you to be interested in.

    Me? I dropped IT given my first opportunity and have yet to look back.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:39AM (#21100601) Journal
    Call me a troll or this post flamebait, but it will be true.

    Look at IT objectively - it's infrastructure. You do the jobs that make the background stuff work. Mechanics, machinists, equipment opertors, assemblers, all do this stuff. They diagnose problems and fix them. They assemble components built and designed primarily by others into a useful working product, often based on the experience of others.

    Of course gen Y doesn't want any part of that. It takes effort and requires getting your hands dirty. Most kids out of school (in any generation, I might add) are looking for which CEO position will give them the best golden parachute. Nevermind that that's not how the real world works - their perceptions are based on seeing smart people (like them) on TV shows get to the top without effort. Some will eventually realize they have to make money, and they'll be IT ditchdiggers. Others will find their niche in retail sales, or construction, or some white collar paper-pushing position.

    Nobody aspires to grow up and be a plumber, but the world still needs them. And, in case you haven't looked lately, plumbers can make decent money.
  • by rbanzai (596355) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @11:42AM (#21100643)
    I support a gaggle of Gen-Y'ers and would like to point out that using technology is not the same thing as understanding technology. Even the graphic designers who use Photoshop at the expert level five days a week don't know simple things like how to burn a data CD. It's possible for someone to own a Smartphone, digital video camera, home network, etc. and have not the slightest idea how they work or how to solve even the most minor of problems.

    This is not a slam, just a clarification. I don't see ANY generation having more tech skills than any other, and that includes the current teenagers who were born surrounded by technology.

    P.S. I am an X'er
  • by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @12:10PM (#21101053)
    There are three kinds of "technology "fluent": To use the old car analogy

    1) Can drive a car, knows all about car companies and which models have leather seats and what "anti-skid brakes" do

    2) can fix a car. Can figure out what part is broken and do a "remove and replace" repair

    3) Can design a car. Knows how to design body sheet metal so that it absorbs energy in an impact. Can model flame propagation inside a combustion chamber,

    With cars e have drivers, mechanics and engineers. With computers it is users, service techs and engineers. So what the article says is that even though many kids are computer users few want to become engineers. Well "good" the ratio of users to engineers should be about 100,000 to one or maybe 500K to 1. It only take 10 guys to set up a cool web site that a million people can use.

  • by juuri (7678) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @12:30PM (#21101329) Homepage
    "Children today are lazy, lack respect and have no faith" - Rough translation of Mesopotamian saying.

    What really goads me lately is this massive latching on by the current mainstream press that Work/Life balance is some evil concept. It's as though striving to have a life outside your work simply isn't tolerable. Don't these tools who feed this party line when writing the articles want a life as well?

    We are entering a time of extreme excess for the bulk of humanity in 1st world nations, it's okay if we all want to slow down some and enjoy this new world we have. Frankly if we all really worked as hard as people did thirty or fourty years ago we'd either run out of work or resources quickly. This is why we need to continue to push an information economy because its central resource is people something we still have plenty of (for now).

    I'm amazed when talking to people on the East Coast and they mock West Coast things like Work/Life balance with derision and a wave of the hand. Unless you *really* enjoy your job above all else, what's wrong with wanting it to have less importance in your life? For most of us, work, is a means to an end. This is your only life, enjoy it! Take a vacation! Get drunk/high! Have sex! Do whatever makes you happy as long as it doesn't directly impede the joy of others.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @01:02PM (#21101811) Homepage

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are only about 26,000 "computer science" jobs in the United States. Not "information technology", not system administration, not tech support, but the jobs where people actually research and develop new technology.

    If you're really good, there are openings in the operating systems groups for the iPhone and the Palm. There's good technical work to be done there, the pay is OK but not spectacular, you will have no life, you get no respect, and few will ever understand what you did. (If you take the iPhone job, you get to meet Steve Jobs and have him scream at you.)

    The trouble is, if you're smart enough to do those jobs, you can probably do better doing something else. Two smart young people I know, with Stanford CS degrees, are running hedge funds.

    And that's the top of the field. Further down, it's much worse, endlessly fixing systems that could have been designed not to fail, but for which the costs to do that would have been higher than fixing them.

    I'm not complaining personally; I've done very well in computer science. But I can't recommend it as a career choice today.

    • Closest I can find to your 26,000 figure is "Computer and Information Scientists, Research" (27,650). The iPhone and Palm jobs you mention wouldn't fall under that, they'd most likely fall under "Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software" (employment of 329,060). Then there's the 472,520 jobs in "Computer Software Engineers, Applications". And the 396,020 "Computer Programmers". There's also 446,460 "Computer Systems Analysts".

      Running hedge funds takes an entirely different skillset. There's prob
  • Self Interest (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @01:54PM (#21102613)
    A while back, I was doing some work for a major aerospace/engineering firm. Their management was scurrying around, trying to find employees with engineering and/or software skills that were not within a few years of retirement. One of the questions they were asking was: Why are so few students pursuing these career paths? The answer: Because anyone smart enough to do this kind of work isn't going to select a career that may very well be sent offshore in the near future.

    They didn't like that answer and while they continue to promote technical careers at the high school level, they also lobby heavily for expanded H1-B visa quotas and press the State Department and DoD to relax restrictions on sending work overseas.

    Kids are too smart these days. Whatever they do, they are increasingly interested in maintaining control of the market for their skills, rather than selling themselves off to a large corporation. Scott Adams had a Dilbert strip where he coined the term 'technological savant'. This is an individual who can solve the most sophisticated technical problems in his/her field, but is too stupid to compare paychecks between professions.

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