JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Gen Y takes centre stage

22 per cent youth employment! Yeah!

22 per cent youth employment! Yeah!

I love Gen Y.

I love their energy, their tolerance, their sense of humour and their long legs.

I don't think they're particularly different to any other generation and, as I've written previously, it's "been the job description of younger cohorts to irritate their predecessors since ... before the birth of Christ".

Still, some of them do excel in being annoying and the mantra of "give us our time in sun" dims somewhat when you consider that in the arenas Gen Y are being allowed their moment to shine, they're not exactly overachieving.

The most visible and public failures, of course, are in our national sporting teams. It's sometimes hard to separate whether our swimmers, rugby players and cricketers are just medicocre or really doing as dreadfully as gleeful Gen Xers and Baby Boomers would have us believe.

A widely sanctified theory I've heard repeated at pubs, cafes and dinner parties is Gen Y in this country lacks starch because Australia cruised through the Global Financial Crisis and our youth were denied the benefit of tough times to lower their expectations.

There may be some validity in this when you consider there's around 75 million unemployed young people worldwide, with up to 360 million young people classed as NEET (not in education, employment or training) according to The International Labor Organization.

Put a toe outside our borders and yoof is ravenous for opportunity.

Consider also the figures for youth unemployment in this country since 1980 and it's hard to make a case Gen Y are doing it any tougher than Gen X did.

Last year (2012), the Australian Bureau of Statistics logged youth unemployment (ages 15-24) at 11.7 per cent. This was the highest figure since 2003, when it was 12 per cent.

In 1992 it was 19.4 per cent, '93 (18.7 per cent), '94 (17 per cent). In fact, for all of the 80s and 90s it was above 11.7 per cent except for two years (1981 - 11.4 per cent and '89 - 11.2 per cent).

For the rest of those two decades, it was several percentage points higher than it is now, so Gen X have a case when saying our newest members of the workforce have seen nothing in the hardship stakes.

Compare our youth unemployment rate in 2011 (11.3 per cent) - the last year the United Nations Statistics Division has figures for - to other western countries like Belgium (18.7 per cent), France (21.2 per cent), Ireland (35.3 per cent), New Zealand (18.2 per cent), the UK (22 per cent), the US (18.7 per cent), Greece (38.5 per cent), Italy (27.1 per cent) and Spain (48.2 per cent) and it's not hard to imagine young people from those places might be a little hungrier for work than they are here.

(You don't even wanna see the figures for some third world countries).

However, unemployment figures are largely a furphy when it comes to our international sports people because they have jobs and, in the case of our rugby players and cricketers (less so swimmers), are being paid big bucks for their talents.

The Guardian's Mike Selvey made the case on Monday our young cricketers are paying the price of Cricket Australia being "in thrall to commercial success with the Big Bash and the chickens are coming home to roost in the Ashes".

Wrote Selvey:

"When it comes to first-class cricket, and the pathway to Test cricket, Australia have lost the plot ... those of a vintage will tell that a good grade side of their era would provide stiffer competition than the current Australia team.

"The problem lies deep in the grassroots of the game, where long-game techniques have been sacrificed on the altar of T20 ambition. Pitches at grade and first-class level promote results before excellence, and the whole idea of a predominant first-class programme has been jettisoned to bookend status in favour of the Big Bash."

This piece was dutifully followed up the SMH's Chloe Saltau, who flirted around her stumps with the same theory but refused to be drawn into a shot: "Whether or not the Twenty20 revolution is responsible for the short attention spans of batsmen who cannot stick out the tough periods, the superior techniques of the English batsmen including 22-year-old centurion Joe Root suggests something has gone wrong in Australian coaching," she wrote on Wednesday.

The fact remains, Australia's best cricket and union players do not really have to worry about performing for their national side because they know they can make enormous money overseas, despite never donning the green and gold again.

And when you consider Australia's best batsman, now, and for the last few years is Michael Clarke, a man who's never taken the easy cash of the Indian Premier League, the argument bears consideration.

If this is the case, it makes me wonder why we're caning the players and not CA CEO James Sutherland who seems to be skating through crises largely untouched (I wonder whether journalists' access to players has something to do with this?)

In the meantime, I'm guessing a large proportion of the Australian population will remain patient with Gen Y athletes (they are our nephews and nieces, sons and daughters, after all), pray for their success and hope they grab their time on the world stage and put it to good use.  

 You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.


  • Problem is we always look and highlight the men.

    I say look at our netball, women's hockey, football and cricket teams.

    I didn't mention surfing and swimming as the world knows Aussie chicks are water babies.

    Just to name a few, Elise Perry, Sally Pearson, Stephanie Gillmore, etc.

    Coldest window sill in Sydney
    Date and time
    July 24, 2013, 7:22PM
    • Being successful in sport isn't cool anymore.

      It's nerdy. I think that's why they don't care. Nobody else cares, why should they.

      Sport is for old people who have got nothing else to do on the weekend.

      Date and time
      July 25, 2013, 6:13AM
    • I have a solution!

      Let our batsmen play with their phones when idle at the crease.

      They will immediately be at ease and their mojo will return.

      Date and time
      July 25, 2013, 9:06AM
    • It's not a Gen Y or a Male thing. Take a look at the kids who come into the AFL system now. It's not an international sport, but I'm amazed at how advanced they are at 18 years of age. They speak professionally in the media, perform consistently for their team, and have a high level of strength and fitness. Gen Y Kids like Jaeger Omera, Nick Vlaustuin, Ollie Wines to name a few are absolute class in how they conduct themselves for their sport and their team. I see more of an issue in individual pursuits like Swimming, tennis and Batting in cricket compared to AFL where you don't get a run in the seniors these days until your attitude is team first, individual second

      Date and time
      July 25, 2013, 10:02AM
    • Ronaldo, is that Australian netball team you are talking about? The one who is in the middle of the longest losing streak in its history?

      Punters Pal
      Date and time
      July 25, 2013, 11:17AM
  • It's a theory, at least. Look at Spain: almost 50% youth unemployment, with 25% across the board. The kids fight hard to get into the best football teams, because maybe their prospects are bleak elsewhere. The football teams fight harder because the obligation to the fans feels higher when everything else in life is miserable.

    It's not just football. The Spanish Olympic team did well in London across a range of sports, despite a cut-back in government support.

    Date and time
    July 24, 2013, 8:41PM
    • interesting theories sam, but doesn't stand up to scrutiny fully. in short correlation does not mean causality. How comparatively things are economically between here and overseas bears no impact. If you consider the 1995-2007 period where Australia dominated world cricket, times were not only good economically here (or better than now) but also overseas. I'd say there is no one factor either, although I do agree (and predicted myself) that the money on offer in alternative forms of the game would shift priorities. Bear in mind we also have just come off a golden run with a succession of test match and one day teams arguably the best in history (warne, waugh, mcgrath, ponting etc.). Let's not also forget there are inevitably swings and roundabouts. England was rubbish for decades, but has essentially dominated us in tests for 8 years.

      Date and time
      July 24, 2013, 10:19PM
      • In my day we used to have to fork over a deena or a schillin' to play on water logged fields near the airport.
        No one drove us or picked us up from training, we have to walk to the footy fields where we practised running around the field muddy or not. Our boots were leather and heavier when they got wet. We felt like we were wearing bricks by half time.
        Tackles were tackles, biff was ok unless spotted. Scrums were fought and you went for the legs if you were a hooker and the loose arm, well it was everywhere.
        Second row broke early and the best tackler was the cover defending lock who knew where to catch that escapee winger or centre.
        Full backs stayed back, Kicked goals and never went into the back line unless asked.
        And if we were lucky, our Dads would thrash us and take us down to Henson Park where he and his mates stopped and had a skinfull before pulling us by our ears up to watch the second half of Reserve Grade. Reserves was where the old players who were owed money or a bellyfull would pull on their old boots, put their teeth in a jar if they had them and go out and bash the living daylights out of the other side.
        Come half time, no oranges just a swig of beer or a nip of rum on a cold day and back out there.
        If you were lucky and really lucky in reserves the first grade runner would tell you to lay off the booze as you might be needed for First Grade as young Bill had not turned up yet or he had a groin injury.
        Those were the days.....

        The Old Guy
        Date and time
        July 24, 2013, 10:27PM
        • on the weekend i went to see my nephew play footy,,all the 13 year olds were wearing skins to keep them warm during the game...i told all the mothers their that this is why we have a generation of soft cocks...

          Date and time
          July 25, 2013, 7:47AM
        • skeptic, you are spot on

          Date and time
          July 29, 2013, 1:08PM

      More comments

      Comments are now closed
      Featured advertisers
      Executive Style newsletter signup

      Executive Style newsletter signup The latest news delivered to your inbox twice-weekly.

      Sign up now