So, millennials, aka ‘generation y’ or ‘the worst generation ever’, are, quite frankly, delusional, lazy, suffer from #FOBO (fear of being offline) and have no entrepreneurial ambition. This is what the stereotype would have us believe. But surely stereotyping a generation can’t be right? Or can it…

We caught up with Jacqui Lloyd (pictured), the Early in Career Programme Manager at Microsoft, to hear her views on the value millennials are bringing to the workplace, what makes them get out of bed in the morning and how to make the most of their skills.

jacqui-lloydBased on her experience, Jacqui says that generation Y require structure, leadership and guidance. Although millennials are individuals – and should be treated as such, she recognises that their generational qualities are an immense advantage to Microsoft.

When asked to summarise what it is that millennials want, Jacqui answers, quite simply, “Millennials want your job. They want your MD’s job. They want responsibility and a genuine role to play. You should be employing millennials and taking on apprentices to grow new talent, develop new skills and ‘shape things up’.” You might think that this doesn’t sound like the usual description of an apprentice, but as Jacqui will strongly attest, ‘that’s purely due to the stigma around apprenticeships which is still being bandied about today (yawn)’.

And what is it that millennials need? “Millennials need support, transition, supportive managers and early in career development programmes. As an employer or manager, having soft skills, pastoral care and strong relationships will gain the trust and respect of young people”. From the offset Jacqui makes it clear that she will ‘have each apprentice’s back’ throughout their journey with Microsoft, on one condition… they turn up on time and try hard. Sounds like a fair deal, we think.

Jacqui goes on to provide some good advice for employers looking to bring new blood into their business “Millennials provide innovative, different and exciting approaches and are the most networked generation. You should hire millennial apprentices for being self-motivated, driven individuals and ensure that the content and delivery of apprenticeships is individualised. Working closely with training providers to provide tailored training can achieve this. Building a sense of community is also key for transition, even with individuals from different departments – you can use this to your advantage as an employer. If millennials feel valued and have friends in the workplace they’re more likely to be motivated, that’s for sure”.

And for that all important interview and getting the most out of your candidate, Jacqui strongly advises against asking a sixteen-year-old about a time they managed a project as it’s not helpful for either the employer or the young person. Employers should be focussing more on the will as opposed to the skill of young self-driven individuals.

When we compare Jacqui’s view of the generalised millennial against a generalised apprenticeship the differences are few and far between. The stereotypical apprentice is a low-skilled, poorly graded tea maker. When in fact, an apprenticeship provides young people with structure, support, individualised training within over 170 industries! An apprenticeship is the long-lost sibling of a millennial eager to succeed and secure the company director’s job in a few years’ time.

In summary, Jacqui has some top tips for employers in terms of managing millennials in apprenticeships:

  • Provide structure – define deliverables with clear timescales and success factors
  • Provide leadership and guidance- they want to learn from YOU
  • Encourage their ‘can-do’ attitude – Let’s not squash it!
  • Listen to them – they have good ideas and are used to being heard
  • Take advantage of their native tech skills – you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
  • Ensure the work-life balance – Millennials look for this. They work hard, but they are accustomed to cramming lots in
  • They are up for a challenge – Multi-tasking is second nature
  • Provide lots of feedback – This group is used to constant and ongoing feedback (Think Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter)

Following Jacqui’s advice might not be for everyone, but for those employers savvy enough to maximise the millennial/ generation y and couple it with an apprenticeship, the only thing they’ll have to worry about is how long they can hold on to their job before the ambitious apprentice is snapping at their heels!