Millennials – those born between 1980 and 2000 – are now entering into employment in huge numbers. Whether they’re 37 year olds who are already working plenty of experience under their belts, or budding 17 year olds on the cusp of adulthood and their first ‘proper’ jobs, they’re fast filling up entry-to-middle positions within companies and shaping the world of work.
As a result, it’s impossible to overlook the impact millennials are having – and will continue to have – on the workplace. Their affinity with the world of digital, as well as their proficiency with hardware, software and digital design, gives them the edge over many senior colleagues when it comes to grasping key business tools and adopting new technologies. And, millennials are comfortable using various forms of new software (as well as essential pieces of overarching ERP software that merge the various tools together), racing around new programs and adopting methods of instantly communicating and digesting information. This makes them a valuable asset to a business, often working more efficiently and collaboratively than their bosses who aren’t able to get on board with new ways of working quite so quickly.
But, there’s growing pressure on millennials to not only navigate commonplace tools in the workplace, but to develop them too. And that’s where the problem lies.
There’s a growing gap in the market for highly tech-skilled millennials, with school curriculums historically struggling to keep up with the pace of change in the digital world. Despite being a generation of ‘digital natives’, The Science and Technology Committee often sees evidence of the UK facing critical STEM skill shortages, and it’s something often reported in America too. Growth industries such as big data is struggling to fill positions with millennials that are qualified or educated enough to do the job, despite the numbers of millennials already in (or about to join) the workforce, whether as a full time employee or on a freelance basis. And that’s simply because organisations, schools and colleges historically haven’t been able to teach the digital skills that are now required in the modern workplace.
Fortunately, key decision makers are aware of the problem and educational institutions are doing their very best to ensure that the current generation of children is well-versed in digital language, teaching coding to children as young as five years old for example. And, major corporations such as BP and Samsung are partnering with major universities to improve the quality and availability of STEM teaching across multiple educational centers, so that today’s minds will become precisely the kinds of tech skilled workers the world needs.
And that’s a huge relief. Current projections show that there will be an estimated 1 million more computing jobs in America than applicants who can fill them by 2020, and the situation is similar in the UK. So, it’s important that this gap is addressed quickly. Then, once we make investments in the people that we need to do the work in the future, the question will be: what are these technologically-savvy workers looking for when it comes to working for the right boss? It might take time, but getting the right people, in the right environment with the right tools will be crucial in making a success of the fourth industrial revolution.