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02/08/2013

Who are the Millennials? And why are they so stressed?

Unemployed

Unemployed Mariangela Schiena (R), 31, of Italy and her boyfriend Henok Mulugeta, 28, of Ethiopia pose in the building where they live in Rome. (Reuters/Tony Gentile)

Who are the Millennials and why don’t more of them go to Davos?

The Millennials is the new buzzword given to those born between 1981 and 1995. Figuring out how to harness the power of this next generation – who are in that peculiar spot of being both the future of consumerism and jobless - was a key theme at last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The WEF is one of the premier geopolitical conferences in the world, attracting presidents, prime ministers and other global leaders.

But overshadowing the forum is the entrenched problem of youth unemployment in Europe and North America. In some areas of the industrialized world, as many as one in two young people are jobless or stuck in dead-end employment ruts.

“(Now) that we have returned to our day jobs, it’s clear we should be making more of an effort to connect with the young,” wrote Justin Keeble and Peter Lacy, both with Accenture Sustainability Services in their blog after the annual meeting.

Nearly 50 per cent of the world’s population is under 27, they noted. In Africa that number rises to 70 per cent. And in Canada, the fastest growing youth group is aboriginal people  - who also rank among the highest unemployed.

The pointy-heads at Davos have realized they’ve got to build more sustainable resources, ease up on polluting the planet and try to figure out how to get the young to trust government and authority again - or the world’s economy is in for one rough ride.  See the joint WEF and Accenture report on Engaging Tomorrow’s Consumer here.

Tanya Talaga is the Star's Global Economics Reporter. Follow her on Twitter @TanyaTalaga

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