If statistics are true, there are likely several unemployed youths crawling around your neighborhood, scrounging in trash bins, and protesting the capitalism that left them in this state. Are you prepared to encounter these jobless young adults? It's likely they'll want you to hook them up with an interview or at least drop some career advice. If their experience seems too limited for any open positions at your place of business, you can at least indulge them with some guidance.
Here are some examples of what to tell the economically tortured soul.
1. You're not alone.
The millennials grew up at the forefront of social technology, and have an ingrained need to feel they belong. Let them know they can commiserate, tweet, video chat, text, blog, and vlog with the other 75 million other unemployed youth around the globe. As of July, there are about 4 million unemployed youths in the U.S., about 1 million in Britain, 920,000 in Spain, and 615,000 in France, so tell them to consider brushing up on a foreign language. Of course, as a percentage, the highest regional youth unemployment rates -- more than 25% -- can be found in the Middle East and North Africa, so feel free to recommend studying a language outside of the traditional Romance ones.
2. Demographics will eventually change.
Even though they may think of themselves as invincible, remind them that life is finite -- especially for the aging baby-boomers. The old have done well coming out of the recession, bucking the overall trend of a decreasing employment-population ratio:
But as retirement beckons and hips deteriorate, the young can count on at least some give in the future job market -- perhaps even potentially taking care of the the older generation about to hit that precipitous slope toward the top of the population pyramid:
3. If you want a degree, get one that gives you a chance to pay back your student loans.
The young have seen the destruction that credit can cause, yet they must use it to pay for higher education. Let them know about the billions in delinquent student loans and recommend looking into a degree that has some serious earning potential. According to PayScale, petroleum engineering takes the top spot with a starting salary near $100,000, and in fact, engineering and math positions take the top 13 spots. Of course, in addition to the traditional university setting, there are many other avenues in which to pick up skills, like Khan Academy and open courses from top universities like MIT, Harvard, and University of Michigan.
4. Start your own business.
There likely hasn't been another point in history where it took practically no investment to deliver an idea, product, or service to the entire world through technology. Take a lesson from some of the greatest entrepreneurs in America. Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) when he was 30 years old. Steve Jobs was 21 when he started Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Larry Page and Sergey Brin were both 25 when they founded Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL). Sure, Bezos received $300,000 from his parents to start Amazon, Apple received a $250,000 investment from Mike Markkula, and Google was awash in cash with a $25 million round of funding within its first year. But today, you can crowd-fund your start-up through sites like Kickstarter; people will actually give you money for you to pursue your idea with no equity or guarantee of any return, aside from perhaps a "thanks" email.
But if the young person looks a little despondent for lacking the intelligence of these entrepreneurs, remind them that the creator of the pet rock was 38 years old. There's always time!
5. Move to another country.
Of course, you can also recommend they take a cue from the tax-avoidance schemes of Google, Amazon, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), and most other multinational companies and move to where the opportunity is best. Google looks to Ireland, where 92% of its sales outside of the U.S. are billed, Starbucks has subsidiaries in the Netherlands and Switzerland, and Apple achieved an amazing 9% tax rate last year. The best opportunity for youth employment might be in Denmark. The youth unemployment rate in the former home of the Vikings, according to the International Labour Organization, is at a comfy 4.9% compared to the U.S. rate of more than 15%. And sure, while taxes are relatively high, at least the young have an income to be taxed. Besides, Starbucks demonstrated that taxes are sometimes inevitable when it agreed to pay 10 million pounds (about $16 million) in taxes for each of the next two years.
Don't be afraid of the young and jobless
Remember that you, too, were once young (though perhaps less underemployed). Their politics may scare you, their choice of food may confuse you, and their lack of direction may dampen any hope you have for their generation, but give them a little advice, and they may have a chance.
Fool contributor Dan Newman owns shares of Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Amazon.com, Google, and Starbucks and has the following options: short JAN 2013 $47.00 puts on Starbucks. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Amazon.com, Google, and Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.