Young people have woken up to the fact that the old made lots of money for other people... maybe we should be taking notes from them, says Bev Turner

Ask any employer right now and they speak of half-full offices and a work from home culture that I imagine never be completely undone

Published Last updated

I’ll start with a question: do you now, or did you ever live to work or work to live? I suspect the answer will be largely determined by when you were born.

My father’s generation believed that a good day’s work was reason enough to get out of bed in the morning and if their weekends contained a little time down the pub or in the garden even better. They defined themselves largely by the satisfaction of their work and a job was for life, not just to save enough money for a gap year.

Today’s youngsters see the world differently: they want to work smart, not hard, making as much money in as short a time as possible. And when you put it like that, they sound like the sensible ones.

The under 30s have woken up to the fact that generations above them made lots of money for other people. The social contract their parents entered into now, all too often looks broken. Hard work they realise doesn’t always equal financial success or security. To this generation Fat Cat bonuses look unfair. Their elders were vulnerable - unsettled by two recessions and are now skating on thin ice again as the cost of living crisis grips ever tighter.

A couple of months ago Elite Business magazine published a report stating that Generation Z entrepreneurs (that’s ages 16-24) are leading the post-Covid recovery in the UK with their imaginative hustles: Amazon reselling, flipping designer clothes on apps such as depop, investing in crypto or inventing their own cosmetic lines for TikTok. Among the country’s sole traders, this age group are the only ones to have experienced annual increases in revenue during the pandemic.

It’s annoying if you’re a boss, but it’s no wonder that today’s youth stand up to their employers in a way no previous generation has.

But it’s not just the very young. Ask any employer right now and they speak of half-full offices and a work from home culture that I imagnine never be completely undone. Perhaps this is a triumph for everyone as we get a work-life blend which will make us all happier and less stressed out?

But if you work from home it is entirely possible to give the job of a man in Bangor to a bloke in Bangkok. A whole team in Dublin could be swapped for one in Dubai.

In economic terms what we are experiencing is the Fourth Industrial Revolution but for some reason the government don’t explicitly mention this unless they’re chatting to their Davos mates. I don’t know why – perhaps you might then ask whether the changes they are planning will improve your life and that might be hard for them to answer.

When Matt Hancock delivered a speech in the House of Commons in celebration of The Fourth Industrial Revolution in 2017 he said “If you don’t much like change, I’m afraid I don’t have so much good news. Our goal must be to automate work, but humanise jobs. Allow machines to do the dangerous, boring, and repetitive, and ensure we humans have the capacity to do the creative, empathetic and interactive.”

That sounds great in principle. But I was chatting to the lady on the till this week at my local supermarket – for some isolated folk that might be the only conversation they have all week remember – and she told me they were moving to more automated checkouts. “You see,” she said, “One person can then manage ten tills.”

I do hope Matt Hancock and his fellow MPs have plans for the “creative and empathetic” jobs which the sacked 9 people will now need. Maybe The Universal Basic Income now being trialled in Parts of Wales will be the answer. I don’t know.

Our transport sector is only one of several industries currently beset with strikes. Discontent is getting louder by the day.

Driverless cars, planes and trains are speeding over the horizon towards us. You may have heard the World Economic Forum’s much taunted ambition for humanity, “By 2030 you will own nothing and you will be happy” – it sends chills down spines of the informed but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we will be destitute and delighted. It means that we are moving towards a service and subscription model in which everything is rented: cars, bikes, music, the films we watch.

It’s easy to see this discussion as the luddites versus the technophiles; the forward-thinkers versus the nostalgic types harking back to the good old days. I don’t know who has it right, but the more you see the world from the perspective of the young digital natives, the more you realise they’re too clever and too determined to make the same mistakes that we did. Maybe we should be taking notes from them?