The GCC’s Generation Y: Ambitious Or Ambivalent?

Dr. Craig Nathanson, online faculty member at the University of Roehampton, London, says career progression remains important to Generation Y workers.

Those belonging to Generation Y are no strangers to challenges as they try to alter the perception of entitlement that often accompanies them, including being called “the most high-maintenance workforce in the history of the world”.

Many within Generation Y are children of successful parents and are naturally filled with a belief that they can achieve anything they want to, and since they were born into a world of global connectivity and online opportunity, those challenges seem easier than ever before.

While many of those within the demographic have grown up in booming economies throughout the Gulf – 54 per cent of the region’s demographic is under the age of 35 – it’s also a landscape where competition for jobs is fierce. Generation Y is often – and perhaps unfairly – viewed with a degree of scepticism and is therefore thought to consist of undesirable candidates for employment, and often labelled as having inflated self-esteem and high expectations.

The tech-savvy and highly educated professionals that make up Generation Y want meaningful and challenging work that helps them succeed and further their careers. They also want more of a “business mentor” than a boss and a better working culture consisting of a measurable work-life balance as they place a high value on family, friends and leisure. However, instead of perpetuating the myths of Generation Y’s idleness and privilege, perhaps we should say that it is the most ambitious generation.

This ambition can be seen in businesses throughout the world as Generation Y employees are thinkers, believers, designers and entrepreneurs.

With increased exposure to the world and the advance of technology, Generation Y has an international outlook, looking beyond borders to experience a wider network of work and opportunity. Tasked with revolutionising business and changing the public image of the region, many young professionals are opting to earn a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in order to help them climb the corporate ladder quickly or start their own businesses – helping boost prospects and career development opportunities.

This increase in business education is an excellent indicator for the continued economic growth in the region.

A challenge for the Gulf region now is to retain the wealth of ambitious talent it has at its fingertips. Whereas an MBA had previously been associated with experienced business figures, Generation Y professionals with MBA credentials no longer feel constrained by a lack of prospects or career development opportunities.

We only need to look to some of the world’s largest and most profitable businesses to witness the significant impact of Generation Y on the corporate landscape. Their fresh approach to business – along with a desire for personal and professional development – will lead the way in the future.

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