In today’s higher education landscape, employability of recent colleges graduates is an important topic as colleges and universities are now more than ever being critically evaluated on the relative success of these graduates entering the workforce (Chan & Derry, 2013). Many educators call for conventional career services centers to be more innovative and accountable for students’ college-to-career transition (Grasgreen, 2013).
In order to help students better leverage their college degrees into meaningful professions, career centers now look to transform their approach from simply roviding a service to students, to focusing on holistic student development that assists them throughout their college years and beyond (Dey & Cruzvergara, 2014). This task will be a difficult one for career services professionals in higher education as many negative stereotypes exist to describe the Millennial generation, who currently represent younger professionals graduating from college and entering the workforce.
Also, traditionally-aged college graduates (ages 21-24) are not legally protected from discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects persons 40 years or older (United States Department of Labor, 2017). Words to describe “millennials” include lazy, unfocused, and entitled. If these words were used to describe applicants over 40, however, this would be a discriminatory legal issue (Wilkie, 2014). This paper examines how discriminatory practices against younger job seekers and employees affect higher education institutions.
The paper will first describe the historical context of the Age Discrimination Act of 1967 and then present research to suggest hat younger employees do experience discrimination based on their age. The subsequent sections will describe how discrimination of younger employees directly affects higher education from both a hiring perspective and a career advising perspective. The paper will also examine if discrimination of younger workers also varies based on race, ethnicity, and gender.
Finally, the paper will provide implications for higher education administrators. Historical Context According to Carpenter and de Charon (2014), “[f]or the first time in U. S. history there are five generations in the U. S. orkforce, with more than 60 years separating the oldest and youngest employees. ” To protect against what is traditionally thought of as age discrimination, older employers over 40 years are protected under the Age Discrimination Act of 1967.
According to the United States Department of Labor: “The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects certain applicants and employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination based on age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. The ADEA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)” (United States Department of Labor, 2017, para. 2). In sum, one cannot deny applicants employment or fire current employees based on their older age. This practice is also commonly known as ageism (Jaeger, 2016).
On the other hand, younger employees, specifically the Millennial generation who were born between approximately 1980 and 2000 (Fry, 2016), are not protected under ADEA. According to the Pew Research Center, more than one-third of American workers fall in the Millennial generation, which surpasses those in Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) (Fry, 2015). However, the Department of Work and Pension reported that “[e]xperiences of age discrimination were more common for younger groups, with under-25s at least twice as likely to have experienced it than other age groups” (Snowden, 2012, para. ).
Age Discrimination of Younger Employees According to the Department of Work and Pensions (2012), ageism affects younger employees as well as older employees. Indeed, “[p]erceptions towards those aged over 70 are more positive than towards those in their 20s. People over 70 are viewed as more friendly, having higher moral standards and as eing more competent than people in their 20s” (“DWP In-house research report ‘Attitudes to Age in Britain 2010-11″, 2012).
However, this statistic is not to imply that age discrimination of older employees no longer exists in the workplace. In 2014, the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received over 20,500 age discrimination complaints from employees (Jaeger, 2016). This number represents a 15% increase in the number of complaints received in 2004. Michael Campion, a professor at Purdue University, claims that the large number of baby oomers who tend to retire later in their careers may contribute to the increase in complaints (Jaeger, 2016).
These issues are most apparent in technology and advertising. The low barriers to entry and the ability to quickly more up in a company keeps the average age of employees in these industries down (Nisen, 2014). It is important to broach the topic of age discrimination felt by younger employees because it is hard to prove from a legal perspective that an employer discriminated against a younger employee solely because of his/her age and not for his/ er lack of experience, even though these are related factors (Beaton, 2016).
This can be frustrating and demoralizing for younger employees who enter the vicious cycle of needing experience to get experience. Denise Keating, Chief Executive of the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion, believes that a focus on workplace diversity can help mitigate age discrimination of all types because employers will value a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives (Snowdon, 2012).
Colleges and Universities as Places of Employment First, from a hiring perspective, colleges and universities ollectively employ over 3 million people (Lederman, 2012), so higher educational business units need to be cognizant of their own hiring practices. They also must be aware of the potential for workplace conflict between five generations of employees. Also, unlike in previous generations, younger employees might be more likely to leave a company earlier in their career if they do not have a vested interest in the company or if they do not feel supported by supervisors (Carpenter and de Charon, 2014).
Generally, turnover of employees is inefficient for an rganization as it needs to use additional resources to re-hire and re-train new employees. Indeed, according to a SHRM (2011) study (as cited Carpenter and de Charon (2014) “the cost to replace and hire new staff may be as high as 60% of an employee’s annual salary, whereas total cost of replacement including training and loss of productivity can range from 90% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary” (p. 9). According to Sujansky and Ferri-Reed (2009) (as cited in Carpenter & de Charon, 2014), one of the biggest challenges facing leaders is to motivate and retain millennials. Demoralizing and discriminatory labels placed on millennials should not be tolerated as 83% of millennials hold entrepreneurship leadership roles and 78% aspire to hold these positions in the future (Wilkie, 2014).
One way to show support for millennials is to understand how their career expectations might differ than some of the older generations who have dominated the workforce over the past several decades. First, while it was common for professionals in previous generations to spend the majority of their careers at one company, millennials are more oyal to people at companies, rather than the companies themselves (Carpenter and de Charon, 2014).
According to Alsop, 2008 (as cited in Carpenter and de Charon, 2014), millennials seek mentors, teachers and programs to help them develop their professional skills and advance in their careers. Also, as one’s career is more a reflection of one’s interests and values, millennials might have more requirements for what they seek in a workplace environment. Millennials value companies that provide a work-life balance and professional development and that maintain a social