Learning about boomerangs in Canada.

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by: Kurt Knackstedt, President, Association of Corporate Travel Executives.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the ACTE Canada conference in Edmonton, Alberta. One of the great things about my role as ACTE President is getting to meet, network and learn from travel professionals the world over, and I left Edmonton not only slightly chillier (it was -12C the day I arrived!) but full of much more knowledge than I arrived with.

Kicking off the event on Monday morning was technology journalist, blogger, broadcaster and entrepreneur extraordinaire Jesse Brown (check out some of his amazing work at CANADALAND, follow him @JesseBrown, or download his cool cartoon-making app called Bitstrips – just to name a few things he’s involved with!) Jesse’s young and dynamic career has had him become one of the most recognized and respected writers on the topic of new technology and future trends, but it was a look back at a recent generational stereotype which made his talk so interesting.

Much has been said, written and satirized about the Millennial generation: they’ve been described as lazy, self-absorbed, non-loyal narcissists that can’t hold down a job and live at home. “Boomerangs” is another way they’ve been classified, as they go out into the world only to just spin around and – literally – come back home to mom and dad.

Jesse, however, helped us see and understand a very different side of this generation. The current crop of young people coming out of universities all over the world are facing a job market unlike anything that earlier generations have faced, as the pace of technology, the hangover from the GFC, and continued softness in the world economy has resulted in youth unemployment numbers that have never been seen in our lifetimes.

Self-absorbed? I might be a bit focused on myself too if I wasn’t all that sure of what my future might hold. Lacking loyalty? When many entry-level jobs these days are either very low-paying or only short-term contracts, and long-term employment isn’t even close to being guaranteed, it’s no wonder that they are always looking out for their next opportunity. Living at home into their late 20’s or even 30’s? Being out of work or underemployed for years may not give you much choice.

Jesse’s presentation really hit home for me and I thought it gave us all in the corporate travel industry a good reminder about our constant search for talent. In a world where loads of young, smart and capable people are trying hard to find their path in the world, we need to ensure we offer them that path. In recent years the global travel industry globally has started to age a bit, while many companies I talk to mention that new talent does not seem to be coming into the industry as much as they used to.

Are we missing a trick? I don’t think so, certainly here at ACTE with our ongoing focus on education and talent development and supporting great programs such as Around the World in 80 Hours or the ACTEcelerator we are always on the lookout for great people and great ideas. Rather, it should be more a call to action to all of us to perhaps re-think our perspective on this latest generation, continue to focus on developing new, young and raw talent, and to not give up on the huge untapped potential that might still be sitting on mom and dad’s couch.

Boomerangs are very effective when used correctly, and perhaps if understood correctly the “boomerang generation” could become very effective for our industry as well. Thanks to all my new Canadian friends and to Jesse Brown for giving me the opportunity to think differently about something I thought I knew all about – and how misguided that thinking might have been.

What do you think? And if anyone or any company out there is doing  something unique or interesting to help bring young talent into the corporate travel industry, let’s hear from you – comments welcomed below!

Thanks again for chattering,

Kurt Knackstedt, President, Association of Corporate Travel Executives


One comment

  1. Jesse’s take is certainly very different and thought provoking . GEN Y or the Boomerranger have a different and unique perspective and modern enterprise would do well to recognise this – inability to understand their drivers could be a major challenge going forward


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