Keeping up with the millennials


Hi everyone,

As the Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, I am constantly evaluating and thinking about new ways to engage and provide you with the support and opportunities you need to succeed professionally and in your education.

Times have changed since I was a graduate trainee, and now that a majority of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s graduate trainees and postdoctoral fellows fall into the ‘millennials’ generation category, I’m mindful of the generational differences that may present.

To get a better understanding of those of you who are millennials, I have done a bit of a research and learned about some of the attitudes, expectations and traits that are commonly attributed to this generational group. I’m not exactly sure how much of this information you prescribe to, however, I am interested in hearing your feedback on this subject.

The following is a collection of data about millennials [1]:

  • Statistics Canada states that millennials make up 27 per cent of Canada’s population, 37 per cent of the labor force and account for 19 per cent of households.

  • Like generation x, female millennials have a higher percentage of post-secondary education than males. Presenting a 10 per cent difference, 75 per cent of female have a post-secondary education compared to the 65 per cent of males who have a post-secondary education.

  • Only 21 per cent of millennials are living with children, compared to the 65 per cent of generation x’s and still 30 per cent of baby boomers.

  • Overall, 71 per cent of millennials are employed vs 83 per cent of generation x and only 60 per cent of the baby boomers. Most of the employment is full-time, though millennials hold the highest percent of part-time employment.

  • Average household earnings for millennials is $71,000, $102,000 for generation x’s and $98,000 for baby boomers.

  • Millennials are one of the top consumers of social media.

  • Millennials are delaying marriage and family; have lived longer with parents; are more likely to have lived part of their childhood with one parent; and female millennials compose the majority of many professions for their generation.

  • Millennials want to ‘make it’; they are a social generation; they expect technology to continue to solve problems and make life easier; they have strong values and are not afraid to express them; work must be meaningful and challenging; but balance is important and flexibility in work hours is critical.

Does any of this sound like you? Is this just fun to think about or does it matter? Well, I think it could matter for the following reasons:

  1. People are living longer, have better health and are now working longer, so for the first time in human history we now can have up to five different generations working side-by-side in organizations. Unsurprisingly, reports by agencies such as the Human Resources Professional Association, indicate increases in intergenerational conflicts and that managers are increasingly reporting how challenging resolving these issues can be. It would appear that it is important to understand what each of us values and how we look at the world, so that a productive and appealing work environment can be established for all.

  2. Universities need to be reflective in understanding of these generational differences, so offices like mine can aid in your educational experiences and ensure our approaches, teaching methods and content is relevant.

I welcome your feedback and I always like meeting with you and your colleagues to learn about your experiences. We may look at things in slightly different ways, but I think we are all working toward the same goal, which is to provide you with a strong educational experience that will enable you to move forward with a productive and rewarding career. Reflecting the School’s graduate outcome data, I am confident that those of you who complete your education at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry will be successful in reaching your goals.

Talk to you next month, 

Andrew J. Watson, PhD
Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies