Imagine my surprise when someone called my attention to the cover story in a recent issue of Business Week, where they're beginning to worry that this economic downturn and the joblessness crisis that has accompanied it is turning those heir apparents into apparently nots.
For people just starting their careers, the damage may be deep and long-lasting, potentially creating a kind of "lost generation." Studies suggest that an extended period of youthful joblessness can significantly depress lifetime income as people get stuck in jobs that are beneath their capabilities, or come to be seen by employers as damaged goods.
But it's not just bad for them. It's bad for us, too.
Equally important, employers are likely to suffer from the scarring of a generation. The freshness and vitality young people bring to the workplace is missing. Tomorrow's would-be star employees are on the sidelines, deprived of experience and losing motivation.
It's an interesting twist in the generational leadership narrative. Perhaps the Millennials are not so unstoppable after all. But then I have to remember, for every Millennial who is kept off the bottom rung of the ladder by the bad economy, there is likely a Boomer who is isn't leaving the top rung for the same reason. And the Xers? Stuck in the middle again.