Editor's Note: What Do Teens Want? Ask Tomorrow's Workforce - InformationWeek
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Stephanie Stahl
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Editor's Note: What Do Teens Want? Ask Tomorrow's Workforce

For many months, I've been having occasional E-mail conversations with a reader who thinks today's teens are getting a bad rap. His initial letter to me was in response to an article we did on teens and ethics ("Whose Rules?" p. 30, March 11). He wasn't disputing the article necessarily, though he wasn't fond of the illustration we used. Generally speaking, he's tired of the media painting a picture that teens are bad or irresponsible. He believes the Millennial generation is more "moral" by numerous criteria than previous ones--and he notes numerous stats on drug use and crime that back him up. Such stats may or may not relate to teens' ethical use of technology, but regardless of what someone might think of teen-agers and their ethics, morals, and general behavior, you have to look at the influences around them and wonder what they'll expect of the business world when it's time for them to start their careers.

Take, for example, some headlines from last week's Wall Street Journal. In summary: New York prosecutors are broadening their Tyco probe to include whether corporate money was improperly used to buy homes and artwork for several company officials. Adelphia inflated the number of its cable-TV subscribers by 400,000 to 500,000 and kept two sets of books to boost the amount it spent to upgrade its systems. R.J. Reynolds was ordered to pay a $20 million fine after a judge ruled it "indirectly targeted" youths in cigarette ads. Scandals at various companies have business executives calling for change. The list could go on.

Thankfully, there are many good companies that play by the rules. And despite the poor economy, great leadership and innovation are alive and kicking in many industries. That's something for anyone in the emerging workforce to look forward to. Well, OK, maybe that's not the case in the telecom industry right now as John Rendleman reports (see story, "Hung Up"). I'm not suggesting these companies are bad, but the once-roaring pace of innovation has slowed with R&D being slashed. On the one hand, their balance sheets are hemorrhaging, so something's gotta be cut, right? On the other hand, is innovation a place to skimp? It's a competitive differentiator, a recruiting tool, a way to keep employees and customers happy. If I had a third hand (and I've often said I think women should generate a third one when they have children), I'd also say innovative ideas don't necessarily have to be costly.

I digress. Despite the woes of the telecom biz and the overall slump in the tech sector, tons of innovation are still going on around us. That's great news, and hopefully something that will keep tomorrow's business-technology leaders interested and engaged. In just a few weeks, I'll have an opportunity to chat with hundreds of tech-savvy teens about their career aspirations. What would you like to know from tomorrow's leaders? Let me know at the address below.

Stephanie Stahl

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Stephanie Stahl's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Stephanie Stahl, please visit her page on the Listening Post.

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