Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: Reviving Work Ethics by Eric Chester

In a survey conducted by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, noted CEOs revealed that one of their biggest challenges is building a talented workforce. What these CEOs are referring to is a skills gap they see between the jobs in demand and the level of expertise available.

The labor force is experiencing dramatic changes with the help of technology and a borderless global environment. Many students graduate from college lacking the skills they need to compete. Most of those critical skills have been collected under an acronym that has launched a campaign to drive awareness to this issue. STEM is a coalition of experts from industries and academia working with governments and the education system to build the nation's knowledge levels in the sciences and maths.

Author Eric Chester has another solution. He believes the labor force is lacking the mentors necessary to build required talent. He suggests that companies nurture their young recruits, teach them work ethics and you have a productive and specialized workforce. The place to start is with those eager-eyed, driven Millenials. They are ripe and ideal for the change many companies are seeking. The social and political atmosphere of this century has altered their worldview, made them more engaging and responsible. Besides, they need guidance. Having been brought up as an entitled generation, they are the prime targets for change. An interesting idea, only Eric Chester misses some critical points.

First, the world is changing, as it did in the '30s after the Depression, the '60s after the anti-war and civil rights movements, in the '80s when corporations ruled the world, and in the '90s when technology shook the world to its innovative core. What Millenniums need is the opportunity to create the change we desperately need, as did the preceding generations.

Second, the business world is becoming more interconnected, creating a need for a mobile workforce. This means that past expectations of work ethics and productivity are also changing. Technology has enabled the work process to move at turbo speeds. Pushing traditional values on this new generation is not the solution.

Third, the new generation is not misguided. They are operating in a vastly different environment and they are adjusting to just that. They are in no more danger of being unethical than the older generations believed television, movie theaters and video games would corrupt our generation.

Mentoring is a valuable service, one that changes lives and encourages innovation. Expecting companies to carry the burden of guiding our children is not mentoring. It's babysitting. What the new generations need is the chance to lead.

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