We're told that Generation Y are lazy, technology-obsessed and quit when the going gets tough - but performance psychologist Danielle Buckley last night helped local business leaders unlock the potential of these young workers.
Generation Y, the demographic nickname for those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, have been a constant thorn in the side of employers who bemoan their lack of motivation and flippant attitude to work.
This idea was the focus of yesterday's seminar held at Dapto Leagues Club by the Australian Business Apprenticeships Centre (ABAC).
Completion rates for some apprenticeships have dropped to 45 per cent, but Tony Keir, regional manager of the ABAC, said the blame did not apply solely to today's youth; it's about a disconnect between young workers and established, or perhaps outdated, work patterns.
"Gen Y have grown up in affluent times, and the opportunities they can pursue are beyond the comprehension of older generations," Mr Keir said.
"They have been raised to challenge their circumstances, and there's nothing wrong with that. They are the future of our workforce, and we need to think of ways to engage them."
More than 170 local business leaders from a range of sectors and industries attended, hearing from performance psychologist and Gen Y expert, Danielle Buckley.
"Compared to Generation X or the Baby Boomers, Gen Y have been raised to be optimistic, to want freedom and flexibility - older generations think that these should be earned in the workplace," Ms Buckley said.
"A lot of employers see these as bad traits, but if we teach employers the right skills, we can turn these into strengths."
Ms Buckley said that by 2025, 75 per cent of Australia's workforce will be made up of workers from Generation Y, so employers should begin investing in ways to reach these employees.
Tips and guides on engagement and motivation for young workers were the main theme of Ms Buckley's seminar.
"Gone are the days that someone goes to work, works non-stop and goes home," she said. "Gen Y want conversation, to be motivated and engaged."
Tim Schlebaum, plant manager at Unanderra's Avopiling foundations plant, attended to learn strategies to better manage his apprentices, who are part of what he jokingly calls "Generation Facebook".
"It's getting harder to deal with new apprentices," he said.
"Sometimes we pick the wrong apprentice, they have a lack of motivation, just show up and go home with no effort.
"It's not in their hearts."
For more information, contact the Australian Business Apprenticeships Centre on 1300 652 236.