Are Negative Stereotypes Holding Young People Back?Posted: 20th of February 2015 by
A quick look at the news media will show various negative portrayals of young people – whether that is as knife-wielding criminals or out-of-touch dreamers with no conception of reality. More troubling still is how these negative stereotypes are being taken on board by some employers and even teachers who think that young people lack the motivation to become valuable members of society or the workforce. Faced with such negative views it is perhaps little surprise that some young people believe that these portrayals are harming their job prospects, despite a survey showing that 80% of teenagers who were questioned believe that they are actually more in touch with social issues than their predecessors.
While the news media highlights youth crime, the majority of young people do not fit the image of the ‘yobs’ portrayed in the press. But, of course, bad news sells and the news media has a vested interest in moving as many papers or getting as many website hits or viewers as possible. So, it seems we are stuck with a popular belief that young people today are something of a tainted generation, unwilling to engage with society and lacking the right motivation or attitude to enter employment.
Indeed, the survey, which was conducted last year by think tank, Demos found that 85% of teenagers questioned believed that negative media was impacting their chances of getting a job. Studies showing that the words most commonly associated with teenagers in six UK newspapers were ‘binge-drinking,’ ‘yobs,’ and ‘crime.’ So, is it any surprise that there are those who feel that today’s teenagers are worse than those of past generations?
Meanwhile, there are employers who feel that young people lack the skills required to enter the workplace, with statistics showing that 27% of employers left ‘entry-level’ positions vacant as they didn’t feel they could find people with the right skills.
So, where does the blame lie?
It seems that the situation is one that has been created by a number of different channels. From education that seemingly falls to equip young people for the workplace, to negative stereotyping by the media.
Of course, there are those teens who do little to change such views, and simply add weight to the argument that young people are no good. However, such views are not in line with reality, with many of today’s teens being more actively engaged with society than past generations. The difference is in how they engage. Rather than looking to politicians to solve the ills of society, teenagers are taking a more proactive approach, using social media to effect change from a grassroots level by signing online petitions, donating money online, or using social media to highlight a cause.
There is clearly a gap between perception and reality, and for those who are looking for work, this could actually be used as a positive. While the negative stereotypes mean that the older generations will be looking for evidence to prove that teens are unemployable and disengaged, you can change these perceptions by showing a positive attitude that goes against the increasingly common perceptions.
Rather than reacting negatively to the bad press and proving the naysayers right, turn the tables on such bad publicity and show that you are a decent and worthwhile member of society. You never know, you may surprise a few people!
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