The generation that has attracted most of Australia’s attention over the past decades has been Generation Y – those born between 1980-1994 – who, when they entered the workforce, seemed to challenge many of the traditional models of leadership, workplace expectations and the way they approached problem solving.
But these Gen Ys are no longer our “emerging generation”. In fact, Gen Ys have become a significant part of the workforce, making up almost 1 in 3 workers today. Not only are they emerging in leadership roles within the workforce, they are increasingly becoming the parents of Australia’s youngest members of society.
Following Gen Y is a generation made up of over 2 billion young people globally – Generation Z – those born between 1995 and 2009. They are currently aged 5 to 19 and fill our school classrooms and university campuses. Gen Z currently make up 19% of the population and 6% of the workforce, but by 2025 will comprise more than 1 in 4 workers (27%).
Just this week MacLean's, a national Canadian news current affairs magazine, featured an in-depth article entitled "Get ready for Generation Z" which highlights some key contributions of this generation to technological innovations around the globe. The article mentions that Gen Zeds are "smarter than the Boomers, and way more ambitious than the Millennials (Gen Y)".
The age at which we are exposed to technologies affects how we use them, and these Gen Zeds certainly are digital integrators – their use of technology is integrated into every aspect of their lives. Technologies have affected how we shop, play, learn, interact, communicate and build communities. Gen Z speak and write in a new language – if they can shorten it they will. Our ‘How to Speak Gen Z’ Alphabet gives just some examples of the creativity Gen Z has developed in their communication.
Generation Z are content creators – and their idea of an encyclopaedia is one that they can change and contribute to. They are empowered by having access to every piece of information within a few clicks of a button – so as a result they have become largely self-directed learners. Whilst they’re constantly reading, it’s rarely going to be a book from cover to cover. After all, they are visual communicators – why read it when you can watch it? In an era of information overload, if the message can be communicated more quickly and effectively through visual means, they are more likely to be accessed and digested.
Following our Gen Zeds emerge our preschool and kindergarten generation of today – Gen Alpha. As the children of Gen Y, they are likely to have just 1 sibling.
If they’re a boy they’re likely to be called Oliver, William, Jack, Noah or James. And if they're a girl, they are most likely to be called Charlotte, Olivia, Ava, Emily, and Amelia. (For more names see our 2014 Baby Names Report).
Aged 0-4, there are 1.6 million Gen Alpha’s in Australia currently, and for the oldest Gen Alphas, their first birthday coincided with the launch of the iPad in 2010. Now, a third of Australians use a tablet.
Gen Alpha are a generation who have probably never seen a camera that required film, and they’ll never have to wait for their photos to be developed. The only phones they’ve ever seen also take photos, record videos, access the internet, run games and just have one button – this is a fair way from the landline telephones that could be taken ‘off the hook’!
Glass was something that Gen Ys were told to look through and keep their fingers off – for Gen Alpha, glass will be a medium through which they touch, talk, and interact with one another. And whilst Baby Boomers remember the introduction of the colour TV in the 1960s and 70s, Gen Alphas can already view a YouTube video from a smartphone onto the home TV.
Today’s next generations are logged on and linked up – digital natives. They are the most materially endowed and technologically literate generation to ever grace the planet!
Claire Madden is a social researcher and next-gen expert. She is the Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle Research. Armed with her research methodologies, business acumen and communication skills, Claire effectively bridges the gap between the emerging generations and the business leaders and educators of today. She is fluent in the social media, youth culture, and engagement styles of these global generations, and a professional in interpreting what this means for educators, managers and marketers.
Claire delivers professional development sessions for school and tertiary teachers, given keynote addresses at conferences as well as board room strategy sessions. From conducting training days for corporate and not for profit clients, to addressing students, training rising leaders and facilitating youth panels, Claire is in a unique position to understand the emerging generations and communicate the key engagement strategies. Her latest topics include:
• Generation Z Defined: The 7 key factors of this global generation
• Future Proofing Careers: How educators can equip their students to thrive in changing times
• Kids, Tweens & Teens: What they like, what they buy, and why
• Gen Z at Work: Attracting, retaining, managing & training emerging generations
• The What, Why & Where of Social Media: How to connect and communicate with the new generations
• Next Gen Leadership: Developing emerging leaders & managing multi-generational teams
• Creating an Engaging Culture: Inspiring the next generation of staff, volunteers and teams