By Angela Fox, Managing Director, Commercial and Public Sector, Dell EMC ANZ
With Gen Z (born in the mid-’90s or later) poised to enter the workforce, the industry has been awash with predictions of a generational divide: seasoned professionals overthrown by a new generation of digital natives.
However, Dell Technologies commissioned research with 12,000 young people (ages 16 - 23 from across the globe) including 723 individuals from Australia and New Zealand aged between, paints a more positive picture – in which different generations of workers come together for the collective good.
They Will Share Knowledge Across Generations
According to the research released this month, 85% of young respondents are willing to mentor older co-workers in tech (debunking the “them” and “us” mentality).
Conversely, with 50% of young people more confident in their tech skills than their non-tech attributes, young professionals will be looking to mature colleagues/superiors for guidance and coaching in business. “Mentor and be mentored” is their prevailing attitude.
They Will Raise the Bar on IT Skills in the Workplace
With their advanced digital skills (honed since infancy, finessed at school), Gen Z’s entry into the workplace is expected to fuel a fresh round of innovation - and to set the bar high for everyone else. After all, 68% of respondents say they already know how to code and 81% can think and express solutions in ways that computers can understand.
Like many Gen Zers, Alison Chia, a 23-year-old Bachelor of Business Management in Singapore, is both responding to, and driving, this insatiable demand for workers to show they can use and learn the plethora of emerging technologies flooding the workplace. "As someone about to enter the workforce, companies with great technology certainly appeal to me... My ideal workplace would be one where I can still gain the network, skills and knowledge, enabled by technology,” she noted.
They Will Harness Technology for Good
Evidently, Gen Z’s digital skills have opened their eyes to technology’s immense potential for good. Many Gen Zers aspire to build their careers on technology to advance human progress.
32% of young people aspire to be involved in technology research and development, 41% want to harness technology to help others and/or the environment, and 73% see technology’s potential to create a more equitable work environment (i.e., by preventing bias and discrimination). No doubt their digital vision, grounded in a deep understanding of tech’s potential, will unlock exciting new possibilities and fulfilment in their lives, as well as the workplace.
They Will Surpass our Limits
For many members of Gen Z, technology has flung open the door to a new world of possibility. For instance, Martha Chumo, a self-taught programmer who set-up a hacker school for girls in her hometown of Nairobi in 2013 (at the tender age of 19) after being denied a visa to attend Hacker School in New York, told CNN, “[In programming] you get to do something new and not use the same old technology forever - that’s the fun part, and also being able to build anything that you can think of.” Chumo is now pursuing business studies in London.
We can see the same formidable passion and commitment to pushing the envelope in Gen Z’s work motivations today. According to our research, what Gen Z desires most from work - beyond a good salary - is the ability to learn new skills and have new experiences.
Kenlynn Yeo, a 22-year-old accounting minor in Singapore shares this zeal and determination. “A friendly workplace with access to great technology is definitely a draw for me. While I’m confident of interacting with technology at work, I’m also interested to gain more knowledge and experience as I think that employers value those factors in candidates too.”
In time, Gen Z’s empowerment, through technology, will bleed into the wider workforce. We’re already seeing seasoned workers take steps to improve their company’s and personal digital readiness. Our Realizing 2030 research indicates that 38% of business leaders aged 45 - 54 years-old are gradually embracing digital transformation as they cautiously plan and invest for the future. This will escalate as a new wave of young, tech-savvy visionaries enters the workforce.
Placing Unity First
Of course, businesses will need to be prepared, by having the technology and opportunities in place to adequately captivate and sustain new talent, while uniting different generations of workers. But if they successfully harness the power of technology and the strengths of a multigenerational workforce, they will thrive in the digital era.