Belfast Telegraph

Why the 'me generation' could be crucial to our success in the future


By Alan Braithwaite, director, Abacus Professional Recruitment

Millennials have been portrayed as a generation who want it all and want it now when it comes to jobs and salary increases.

The group born between 1985 and 2000 have been dubbed 'generation me' due to their determination to satisfy their own needs first, no matter what.

But at Abacus, we see millennials as core to any business recruitment strategy.

Many of this summer's cohort of graduates from Queen's University, Ulster University (UU) and other third-level institutions are currently on the hunt for their first professional job.

They can be forgiven for their blatant self-interest as they seek to make a dent in the debt they have racked up from tuition and maintenance fees.

There are few business leaders today who started off with that level of personal debt.

Return on investment is what drives company growth, so why should these 20-somethings be different or have different expectations than any other business?

Research reveals that Northern Ireland students have done very well in recent years in securing jobs following graduation.

Last year, the region had more graduates in employment after six months than the rest of the UK (61% compared to 58% in England and Scotland).

Northern Ireland also has the lowest percentage of graduates in part-time work at just 11%.

Any flourishing economic region would welcome these statistics as graduates represent the future of any developing business.

We recently supported the Young Leaders NI annual conference 2017.

It was encouraging to witness young leaders and determined individuals come together to share ideas and discuss their thoughts.

We certainly have a group of young businesspeople in Northern Ireland that do not shy away from a challenge. Millennials' expectations of earning more than the Northern Ireland average salary of £25,000 after three years in work is realistic, despite the general market hesitancy and foreboding of Brexit in 2019.

They do not let it dampen their spirits in finding their dream job, but are inspired by the tremendous work and results delivered from our home turf.

In April, we released the results of our salary report, which surveyed 500 employees across 10 professional services segments.

Despite uncertainties around the current economic and political environment, the research demonstrated that 80% of professionals here expect to receive a salary increase this year at least equalling or higher than the increase received in 2016.

We surveyed employees across law, accountancy, compliance, sales, HR, IT and insurance - including those at graduate level.

As we work closely with the millennial group year-on-year, we find they are dynamic professional go-getters, just the type of person we want to introduce to our professional clients.

This passion and drive is also evident to Abacus through the work we do with Queen's and UU when we arm students with additional skills and advice they need to secure jobs.

With more foreign direct investment companies planting roots in the province, and ambitious home-grown businesses providing job opportunities for those starting out on the career ladder, Northern Ireland is certainly attracting and retaining quality young professionals.

Over the past two years, our award-winning Belfast for Life initiative has successfully engaged with over 2,000 highly skilled professionals to promote the attractiveness of Northern Ireland as a place to live and work.

Millennials are inevitability the business leaders of the future, and in Northern Ireland we are lucky to have such driven high-achievers emerging from school and university every year.

Alan Braithwaite is joint director and founder of Abacus Professional Recruitment in Belfast and Dublin

Belfast Telegraph