Many people seem to think that technology is a means to innovation, when in actual fact its the people that drive change. Understanding people in the workforce is arguably the most important thing when planning for the future of a business, “Why?” you may ask – well, from now until 2018 and beyond the workforce will be enhanced with new skills and characteristics coming into the mix that have the potential of changing the way we will be working, possibly even as soon as five years time.
Before we get to the above conclusion though, whats’ more important is to understand how we will be getting there. There is logic behind my madness!
Where we are today (UK)
So today we have four generations in the workforce, but for this post I will focus on the three prominent generations, Baby Boomers*, Generation X** and the Millennials***.
The Baby Boomers*, 14 million strong in the workforce and hugely important to industry – A generation born between the years of 1946-1964, began coming into the workforce several years after WW2 with an enthusiasm to change the world by coming up with new ideas, building new industries from the ground up.
Generation X**, 11 million in the current workforce, born between the years of 1964-1980 – The generation that witnessed the inception of the personal computer, worked through the ‘Dot.com’ boom and possibly dabbled in the rise of MTV and Punk music. Gen Xers are also presumed to be ‘Next in thrown’ to the boomers, but is this really true?
Millennials***, currently 8 million in the workforce, though having been born between the years of 1980-2000 meaning that there is a huge amount (9 million) still in education. The youngest era of this generation are in fact still at primary school. By 2020 it is possible that there could be 17 million Millennials in the workplace (A deeper look into the fundamentals and importance of this generation in relation to the evolution of the workforce will be explained in the next blog post).
These demographics matter, they’re not ‘shock’ facts or over glorified estimates, its a realistic possibility, our workforce is going to change, unless we can figure out a miracle cure for aging…
Baby Boomers are important, they carry mass amounts of invaluable knowledge, experience and seniority, the data and information that they hold is imperitive to the organisations that they are part of. Now is the time to start sharing with the generations that will be leading industry in the future, but how? Sharing information is simpler today than ever before, we can consume huge amounts of information from multiple repositories daily, now is the time to experiment with things such as social computing.
As stated, there are 9 million Millennials that have still not entered the workplace, but its important that they do in order to fill the void that the Boomers will leave over the course of the next decade. Good education is a must in order to get the rest of this generation into the workforce and fullfill generational blend and insdustry sustainability. But its not all doom and gloom, this generation are going to bring in a whole host of new skills and character into the workplace, not to mention their lack of fear towards technology, but the fact that they couldn’t give a stuff about it. Millennials ‘pick up and play’, not just technology but processes, they can learn from multiple mediums at a worryingly fast pace.
So going back to my intro-conclusion, the next generation of workers will change our methods of work, possibly not as drastically as first perscieved, but in terms of such things as sharing, storing and consuming information. Lessons can be learnt, are you going to sit and wait for the changes to be more apparent or are you going to be prepared for the change to occur?