There is much chatter these days about the next generation of workers and whether they are technologically better equipped to face the changing job market. Many seem to think that by growing up with touch-screens, Siri and social media, the iGeneration will have a leg up in the future workforce compared to their less digitally native predecessors. This begs the question, does experience using a type of technology guarantee aptitude in manipulating or controlling this same technology? In Gen Z – Or the Revenge Of the Code I benevolently lampooned younger generations’ lack of recollections with old, grumpy grandpa MS-DOS and his antics that you so often had to deal with to get your software to work. We had to know the nuts and bolts of command language in a format that was not always very user friendly. Sure, your 11-year old niece might be a budding movie producer with audience experience in the form of six-digit YouTube viewers, but how much does she know about the video encoding that happens behind the scenes of her zebra printed bedroom? Does she have to? Maybe not. But on the macro level we might be facing some obstacles if the rising wired generation only expresses a lackluster drive to learn how to fix and evolve our digital environment. They might simply not be savvy enough to fill future jobs in IT and tech.
And in our tech saturated environment that might be a very inconvenient truth.
We are at the dawn of (or deeply immersed in) a new technoeconomic paradigm that is starting to make sweeping inroads into the labor force. In the medium term future the consequences of falling out with tech will be much more daunting than the curse of a low Klout score or a selfie post without ‘likes’. After replacing our muscles in manufacturing jobs, which contributed to wage stagnation in industrialized countries over the last few decades – automation is now starting to replace our brains in traditional white collar sector jobs as well. Hence, in a few years IT could completely alter or eliminate the middle class job market as we know it.
I will write more about these changes and what it means for Generation Z or Homeland generation’s future in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned. We are starting to see more literature on this topic and I am drawing on published and unpublished insights from leading computer scientists, economists, futurists and stakeholders who have rich perspectives on these provocative issues. Nobody will be able to predict the exact outcome of this, but in preparing for the future workforce we will need good generational foresight and some mental remodeling. Because as much as we can learn from history, the fourth industrial revolution will be surprisingly different from the previous ones.
Images: phanlop88 @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Anne Boysen