Mark Casci: Today’s youngsters are wanting to make a difference

Do exams put children under too much stress?
Do exams put children under too much stress?
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Every time I pick up a newspaper and read something critical of ‘millennials’, or even worse, hear people voice these grievances in person, I cringe inside as if someone has dragged a set of overlong fingernails over a particularly dirty blackboard.

Not only is the expression outdated when referring to young people of today, but it seldom matches with the reality I see day in day out.

Going back to the days of Ancient Greece, there is clear written evidence of older people at the time despairing at the next generation of young people, their morals, attitudes and ideas.

Like our ancestors in Ancient Greece, this myopic viewpoint totally fails to take into account the challenges that particular generation has faced.

As a schoolboy in my hometown of Redcar, I and my classmates were given the clear direction that for us as young people there were two options; university or oblivion.

This was still the time of the student grant, and before the considerable proliferation of universities which came after the election of Tony Blair in 1997 when it was decided that half of young people should graduate from university.

Apprenticeships were never part of any conversation or if they were it was very much as a fourth class option, let alone second class.

The situation is gradually improving and next week we will see National Apprenticeship Week kick into gear.

One of the aspects business leaders large and small around Yorkshire continually seek to praise when I speak to them is their apprenticeship programme.

From large professional service firms and corporates to manufacturing, apprentices are a source of real pride.

A change in Government mindset, along with the support of business and educators is turning the tide and now young people are getting a far higher level of advice about what options they have in life.

Indeed, the newsroom in which I work is now home to apprentices for the first time in decades.

These youngsters have a fresh approach in terms of how they look at my trade. Equally, when the Prime Minister visited our offices last week she agreed to meet with them, giving them an insight into the opportunities journalism brings aside from the private jets and flash cars.

However, it is not just young people who are being kept on their toes.

There once was a halcyon day for both recruiters and school and university leavers.

It has nothing to do with tuition fees, top-up fees or fees of any kind.

Nor does it have anything to do with skill levels of any kind.

Increasingly, business people tell me that they are fighting hard to sell their business to young people beyond the day-to-day work and what their remuneration package will be.

Today’s young people, graduates or otherwise, seem more interested in what your business is doing to benefit its local community and the world at large.

This is a far cry from the culture I remember as a university student in the 1990s when it was all about the work and the salary.

Making a difference seems to be the watchword for youngsters in this day and age.

A challenge for employers yes but one that keeps the business community morally sound and thinking of what they can do beyond tax revenue to make the world a better place. My sense is they are relishing the challenge.

The weather may be turning extremely cold but surely we can all feel warm of heart that so many of our young people have better options in front of them and are committed to leaving a legacy behind that frankly, seems to be looking a lot healthier than that which my generation and ones beyond created, where it was university and cash or nothing.

As our politicians continue to tear themselves apart over Brexit it seems they could learn a real lesson from them.