Over the past few months it has been our delight to have worked with Skilling Australia Foundation to research, write and design a ground-breaking report on vocational education in Australia.
This report, released today, gives an overview of the trends currently impacting the Australian workforce and outlines responses that will help futureproof the local economy amidst these global megatrends.
The transition of the workforce from the currently dominant Baby Boomers and Generation X to Generations Y and Z will require different and more diverse solutions to previous intergenerational transfers. As this report points out, the need to be innovative, collaborative and responsive require more emphasis on vocational education and training (VET) in addition to our well regarded higher education sector. In a multi- career era, it is upskilling and retraining that will create a nimble and relevant workforce. In this technologically transformative society, today’s new workers will have to be lifelong learners, with hands-on skills not just academic qualifications, and a focus on productivity not just theory. In these economically fluctuating times, tertiary education will increasingly be required to deliver a return on investment, direct employment outcomes and strong career earning. In all of these areas it is the VET sector that offers compelling solutions to these emerging needs.
This report clearly shows the key role of the VET sector in these transformed times. It also highlights the need to prioritise, promote and position the sector to respond competently to the current needs and opportunities of the Australian economy.
The VET sector is more than just a partner in equipping the emerging workforce, it is the first foundational rung in Australia’s future economic prosperity.
When I was eight years old, my third-grade teacher, Ms. Calov, taught me to be an inquisitive learner. Through her contagious enthusiasm, she turned me from an ordinary kid who did only what was required, to a perceptive student who asked for more projects and always connected what I learned to the world around me.
The kinds of soft skills I learned from Ms. Calov are increasingly important for Gen Z, the generation cohort after millennials. To be prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow, these students need to be collaborative, innovative and responsive to their environment. Here's a look at how today's teachers are fostering curiosity, creativity and other skills in their students, with help from technology.
- Mark McCrindle
School is no longer just a place to learn math, science and writing. It’s a place to learn interpersonal skills that will never become outdated—like how to collaborate, resolve conflict, clearly communicate ideas and teach others. Technology can encourage this kind of interaction. For example, since Gen Z is the first digital-native generation, teachers are asking students for help using technology and to show their peers how to use new tools. Students are working on group projects when they’re in separate physical locations, developing their ability to communicate through written feedback and explain the thinking behind their suggestions.
Encourage lifelong learning and innovative thinking
Teachers today are encouraging students to have a love of learning and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, so they can adapt to new careers and industries. The average employee tenure in the U.S. is 4.2 years, a decline from 4.6 years two years prior. In Australia, we’re experiencing a similar effect where employees are staying in jobs for a shorter duration—the Australian average is three years. This means Gen Z will have 17 different jobs in their life, and they’ll need to continue to learn new skills and how to use new tools as they progress in their careers. By designing learning tasks that have a real-world application, teachers are engaging their students as problem finders and problem solvers—roles that are crucial in any job.
Foster an adaptive mindset that’s ready for change
As the economy shifts and new jobs like VR engineers and cognitive computer analysts emerge, the next generation will need to be able to learn quickly and connect the dots between related topics. To teach these skills, many teachers are “flipping” learning —asking students to reflect on global issues and synthesize information from videos, podcasts and written material, instead of simply assigning a chapter in a textbook.
Six decades later, I still remember Ms. Calov. Her inspiration reminds me of a Mother Teresa quote: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Ms. Calov created many ripples by fostering a love of learning and empowering a community of learners. But with technology, every teacher can teach students lifelong skills to carry them through their careers.
In Australian there are more than 3.7 million school students around 1.5 million university students with another 1.2 million tertiary students in the vocational education sector. This means that more than 1 in 4 Australians are students and so an understanding of the future of work is an important area.
Based on the current trends, almost half of the Year 12 students about to complete their exams will end up with a university degree. While they will start their earning years later, they will live longer and work later in life than any previous generation – on average, into their late 60’s. They will stay on average 1.8 years per job early in their career and average about 3 years per job over their working life which means they will have 17 different jobs in their lifetime, across an estimated 5 careers.
Some of the jobs they will hold don’t currently exist, just as mainstream jobs today such as app developer, social media manager and cyber security professional didn’t exist when they began their schooling. Already, working as a virtual reality engineer, cognitive computer expert, data visualisation designer or medical nanotechnologist is nothing unusual. This is very relevant in an area where almost 2 in 3 workers (63%) are white collar, employed in professional, managerial and administrative roles compared to less than half the workforce nationally (49%).
The last few years of disruption has shown us that any role that can be replaced by technology will be. While technology is great for automating systems and replacing repetitive functions, it is not strong at adapting to complex change and engaging with people. Therefore, to future proof careers and skills, today’s young people will need to develop their social interactions, their creative problem solving and their resilience to adapt to a constantly changing workplace. In other words, by being collaborative, responsive and innovative, today’s local students will be enabled to thrive in global careers, now and over the decades ahead.
1. Let’s look at education in Australia, how many students are there?
A total of 6.4 million students in Australia. 3.7 million school students, 1.5 million uni students and 1.2 million tertiary students in the vocational education sector.
2. So how will employment and careers look in the future for these current students?
Firstly, they will live longer than previous generations, work a lot later as well – into their late 60’s, they will move jobs more frequently, staying about 3 years per job, which means they will have 17 separate jobs in their life time and work in an estimated 5 careers. They will be a generation of lifelong learners having to plug back into education to upskill and retrain throughout their lives. In this era of online services like Uber, Airtasker and delivery services, we have seen the rise of the “gig-economy” and more of this generation will end up being freelancers, contractors or contingent workers than ever before. Recent research shows that a third of the national workforce currently participates in contingent work, and more than 3 in 4 employers believe that it will be the norm for people to pick up extra work through job related websites or apps.
3. So what are some of the jobs of the future and what is creating them?
Technology is the first driver. While it is replacing many jobs as seen in manufacturing sector it is also creating many new jobs such as virtual reality engineers, cyber security, nanotechnology digital services, block chain engineers.
4. Are there other factors that are creating emerging jobs?
Yes, the demographic change is creating new opportunities. Australia is growing and the ageing population means that we will need more people in health care aged care and retirement services than ever before. Our increasingly culturally diverse population is creating greater opportunities for people working human services, social work and translation services. And social trends and generational changes are creating new opportunities too. It’s a visual area, so data visualisation or indeed virtual reality applications have created new and emerging roles. Our lives are more complex and in an era of mobility, app development, user experience manager and online shopping experts have emerged to respond to our new customer needs.
5. So how do we future proof our careers in times of great change?
Firstly, be responsive. Everything that can be automated will be and if a job can be done more efficiently through technology, outsourcing or offshoring then it will be. Therefore we need to look at our industry and career and respond to the trends both local and global and upskill and retrain to remain relevant.
Secondly, be innovative. Computers are great at doing repetitive tasks but they are not designed to being creative or add innovation. If we can develop the ability to solve problems, improve systems, be proactive and add value our roles will be indispensable.
Finally, be collaborative. Future careers involves not just an understanding of technology but an understanding of people. Those who can effectively communicate, deal well with others, create a collaborative environment, lead people and motivate teams will always be in demand, and these are areas that computers cannot replace.
Social researcher and author Mark McCrindle recently shared his research on understanding and engaging with Generation Z on Google for Education, speaking about the insight of the trends in our schools and how the education system could be changed for the better. Below is a transcript of his session, which can be watched by clicking on the below photo.
Where does Generation Z fit into our learning communities?
Well, we’ve got the senior leaders, the grandparents in our society, the grandparents of Generation Z. They are the Baby Boomers, and they have had many impacts on education over many decades. You’ve got the emerging leaders in our educational facilities, Generation X, and then the parents of the older students. You’ve got Generation Y as the new parents and also the key and emerging generation of teachers. And of course you’ve got Generation Z themselves, born since the mid-1990s, the students of today. We need to understand them to be able to connect with them, to be able to educate them, and they have been influenced in different times. Clearly, understanding their world of technology is key to engaging with them.
Generation Z in five words; Global, digital, mobile, visual and social.
Generation Z are the world’s first truly global generation, not just through social networking and the friends that they have, but the fashions, the brands, the foods and the technologies are global. They are digital in terms of the tools that they use. We call them “Generation Glass” because its glass, not paper, that is the first medium of interaction and learning for them. They are mobile in terms of where they will live and work and their lifestyles. They’re visual in terms of how they consume content, not just the written forms of old. It’s a world of YouTube and visuals, it’s a world of Instagram and connectivity through the visual means, rather than just the written means. And of course they’re social, in terms of who influences them. It’s not just the experts, it’s not just the authority figures, but it’s the peer groups that influence them more than ever before.
More educated than any generation gone before
The education that is being provided for this generation is going to have to sustain them through more educational years than ever before. They truly will be lifelong learners. Indeed, for us Gen X’s about one in four Australians have a university degree. For Generation Y it’s already one in three. For Generation Z almost half of them will end up with a university degree in their lifetime. This foundational primary and secondary education will sustain them through more education and indeed a longer participation in the workforce than we’ve ever before seen. So what do we need to equip them with to future-proof their lives and careers in these changing times? Well, three words and keys to keep in mind.
Firstly, they need to be innovative. They will need to adapt and adjust in their own roles to remain relevant in these times of change. The average national Australian tenure of an employee in a job is currently three years. Now if that plays out in the lifetime of one of our school leavers today, and based of the trend of them working through their sixties, which will be the norm for Generation Z, it means that they will have seventeen separate jobs in their lifetime. They’ll upskill and retrain every few jobs, they’ll end up with five careers.
They’ll be working in jobs in the future that currently don’t exist, just as now as they start their roles, they’re working in jobs that didn’t exist a decade ago. Some of the jobs that have emerged just in the last couple of years include virtual reality engineers and cognitive computer analysts that can help bridge the gap between technology and humans. Data visualisation experts and drone piolets or UAV operators. It is a fast changing world and we have to equip them therefore, not just with the knowledge, but with the innovative skills to be resilient, to change, to adapt, and to so future-proof their direction.
It’s also about equipping them to be collaborative, because their roles won’t be locked into a hierarchical chart, an organisational chart of old where it was about authoritarian leadership and a chain of command, but rather they’ll need to be flexible and empowered, they’ll need to be entrepreneurial in outlook. Self-directed in their approach. It’s the world of the flat structure, the collaborative leadership model. And so equipping them to be collaborative in style is going to be key. In other words, sure we need to equip them with those cognitive skills, but we need to equip them with the relational skills as well. Yes, we’ve got to teach the eyes of the head, but we’ve got to equip them with the eyes of the heart. I guess I mean from that that it’s not just about the cerebral connection, but the relational and emotional engagement, that’s what a collaborative world needs.
So if we’ve got a generation that are innovative and collaborative, then my third tip is that we need to teach them to be responsive. They will have to learn to adapt and respond to the speed of the changes that they see. We’re all in a nonstop quest for relevance, for adaption, for responding to the changes, and that’s the case for Generation Z. We’ve got to equip them to respond to the changes and lead by an example in that way. The point of course is that we have to model being responsive and adaptive if we want our students to respond in the same way.
So it’s about creating a culture of learning that’s a collaborative, innovative and responsive environment, where we walk the talk, where we model the response to change, where we experiment and innovate to engage with an ever-changing generation. We are really dealing with educational structures like classes and curriculums and examinations that are of the nineteenth century, and we’re often educating in facilities that were built in the twentieth century, yet we’re connecting with a twenty-first century generation. That therefore requires us to be innovative and collaborative and responsive and to equip our students with those skills as well. Keep your eyes on the trends, engage with the next generation and you will equip them to be the leaders of the future.
About Mark McCrindle
Mark McCrindle is a social researcher with an international following. He is recognised as a leader in tracking emerging issues and researching social trends. As an award winning social researcher and an engaging public speaker, Mark has appeared across many television networks and other media. He is a best-selling author, an influential thought leader, TEDx speaker and Principal of McCrindle Research. His advisory, communications and research company, McCrindle, count among its clients more than 100 of Australia’s largest companies and leading international brands.
Last Friday it was our pleasure to co-host the Education Future Forum with the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL) at Northern Beaches Christian School. Bringing together the best of McCrindle’s research and analytics with SCIL’s hands-on experience and innovation, the Education Future Forum was an opportunity for educational leaders and practitioners to engage in the dialogue around the future needs, trends and directions in education.
After a warm welcome from our MC Geoff Brailey, Ashley McKenzie, Team Leader of Communications and Mark McCrindle, Research Principal at McCrindle opened the event and shared some of the trends impacting Schools in Australia. They also delved into the results showcased from new research on the education sector with a niche focus on the future of education. The research explores the trends, themes and influential factors that relate to the future of education in Australia and is available to access here.
Stephen Harris, Principal at Northern Beaches Christian School (and Founding Director of SCIL) and Anne Knock from SCIL Leadership took our attendees through the strategy behind creative, collaborative and innovative schooling. Our delegates were also privileged to be taken on a tour around Northern Beaches Christian School to admire the facilities and 21st Century learning methods applied there.
We were also pleased to hear from two guest speakers – James Dalziel, Research Fellow for The Excellence Centre at Pacific Hills Christian School who facilitated a session on Faith, Schools and Young People and featured on our panel. It was also a pleasure to hear from Greg McDermott, Endurance Triathlete and Motivational Speaker, who closed the forum by inspiring us all to be more active and as a result be a role-model for our students and young people to look up to.
A big thank you to all of our delegates who made the day a fantastic event for leaders in the education sector!
The Education Future Report
At McCrindle, we have a passion for helping schools and tertiary institutions thrive in today’s changing times. The education sector sits at the very heart of our diverse Australian communities and is also at the cross-roads of today’s biggest trends – dealing with massive technological change and engaging with the youngest generations.
21st Century students are being shaped in different times and have different characteristics, expectations, and communication styles – therefore engaging effectively with today’s students and their families requires new strategies, solutions, and approaches.
The Education Future Report provides an overview of the current and future trends impacting the Education Sector. It provides a snapshot of the landscape that primary and secondary schools in Australia operate, and shares insights from areas scoped through the research including technology, generational transitions in staffing and leadership roles within the education sector, pedagogical styles, physical learning spaces, social licence, needs of students of the future and broader demographic shifts across Australian communities.
Education institutions across Australia are invited to participate in a national research study on the future of the education sector.
This inaugural longitudinal study by McCrindle in partnership with the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning will deliver a comprehensive, research-based analysis of the education landscape now and
towards 2020. It will provide participating organisations with a picture of the current and emerging needs of their students, staff, and parents, all benchmarked against the broader sector.
Participants will receive their specific data, the benchmarking data as well as the overall insights published in the Education Future Report. They will also receive complimentary invitations to attend the
Education Future Forum in late 2017, where the results of the study will be published in the form of the Education Future Report and presented at the event. For more information please contact Geoff Brailey (firstname.lastname@example.org).
McCrindle Speakers for Professional Development Days
Our McCrindle Speakers team are regularly engaged to deliver Professional Development sessions for school leaders and teachers internationally and across every state and territory in Australia. We hold seminars for students on future-proofing careers, for parents on parenting the i-Gen, for teachers on the future of education and engaging with today's students, and for boards and executives on understanding the trends and recruiting, training and retaining today's new generations of staff.
For more information on our education PD sessions or research, please contact us at email@example.com or on 02 8824 3422.
Australians are more educated today than they have been at any other point in history. The number of students completing undergraduate and postgraduate courses today is on the rise and for the first time in Australian history more than half the population aged 15-64 have a post-secondary qualification (51%). Over 70% of the newest wave of high school graduates, Generation Z, are pursuing further education and training, with almost half of them going on to university. How is today’s education system providing for this Generation of lifelong learners? This Friday we are looking forward to co-hosting the Education Future Forum with SCIL, to provide an overview of the current and future trends impacting the Education Sector. Here is a snapshot of some of the current and future trends in primary and secondary schools across Australia, from our Education Future Report 2016, which will be shared in detail at this Friday’s event.
MORE STUDENTS THAN EVER BEFORE
Australia currently has more students enrolled in full-time education than ever before. In 2015 there were 3,730,694 students enrolled in Australian schools. This is a 1.5% increase from 2014 and a significant 14% increase from 2001.
Since 2001, the growth in the total number of students (14%) has far outweighed the growth of actual schools (2%), the result of which has been growth in larger schools (801+ students for primary and 1200+ for secondary). The nature of these growing schools is changing as well, with more students enrolling in Independent schools than ever before.
INCREASING NUMBER OF PRIVATE SCHOOL ENROLMENTS
Since the 1970s there has been a significant rise in the proportion of students enrolling in non-government schools. Whereas non-government schools educated only 22% of all students in 1970, by 2015 that figure had risen to over a third (35%).
While government schools continue to educate the majority of Australian students (65%), enrolments at Catholic (21%) and Independent (14%) schools are on the rise and show that Australians value choice, and today’s parents are prepared to pay for an education if they feel it will align more closely with their values, expectations, and aspirations.
13% GROWTH IN TEACHERS SINCE 2005
In 2015, there were 382,687 full-time equivalent teaching staff over primary and secondary schools in Australia, which is a growth of 13% since 2005. Of these, 240,882 (63%) taught in Government schools, 72,812 (19%) taught in Catholic schools and 68,994 (18%) in independent schools.
The total number of male teachers has grown between 2005 and 2015 by 3% compared to 18% growth in female teachers over the same period. Comparatively, Government schools have a lower percentage of male teachers than Catholic and Independent schools.
THE EDUCATION FUTURE FORUM
Bringing together the best of McCrindle's research and analytics with SCIL's hands-on experience and innovation, the Education Future Forum is an opportunity for educational leaders and practitioners to engage in the dialogue around the future needs, trends and directions in education. The day will inform and inspire those who are seeking to understand this generation and simultaneously envision a school where the learning captures the hearts and minds of young people. There will also be the opportunity to tour Northern Beaches Christian School, to see students and teachers in action and view the learning spaces.
The EFF will inform and inspire those who are seeking to understand this generation and simultaneously envision a school where the learning captures the hearts and minds of young people.
This one-day event will showcase results from new research on the education sector with a niche focus on the future of education. The research explores the trends, themes and influential factors that relate to the future of education in Australia. Areas scoped through the research include technology, generational transitions in staffing and leadership roles within the education sector, pedagogical styles, physical learning spaces, social licence, needs of students of the future and broader demographic shifts across Australian communities.
Analysis by Eliane Miles on new research released this week from the OECD highlights the challenge for young people entering their working years, particularly considering their transition from education.
While unemployment in Australia at just 5.6% is one of the lowest in the OECD, the number of Australian young people not in education, employment, or training (NEETs) has increased by 100,000 since the time prior to the Global Financial Crisis (2008), rising from 10.5% to 11.8% of all those aged 16 to 24 – comprising a total of 580,000 young people today.
The challenges affecting youth unemployment most often lie in a young person’s transition periods. It is normal for young people to spend some time out of education and work – in fact, 2 in 3 young people aged 16 to 24 will spend up to 3 months out of education and work – but the challenge becomes when this period of time becomes greater and the ‘relevance clock’ begins to tick. When 3 months eventuates into a year, or longer, this can lead to cycles of unemployment. Today, 1 in 5 young people aged 16 to 24 spend 12 months or more out of employment, education, or training, and it is these young people that will face the most significant challenges as they try to enter or re-enter the workforce.
The demographic realities play a significant risk factor in young people falling into a cycle of unemployment. 60% of NEETS are women, and while just 3% of young people are indigenous, this percentage rises to 10% among NEETs. There is also a strong correlation between low educational attainment and struggles in entering the workforce - 37% of students who leave school in Year 10 end up not being in education, employment, or training, compared with just 11% of those with a tertiary qualification.
Watch Eliane Miles on 7 News below:
240,000 young people looking for work
Young people out of work are often stereotyped as “slackers” but in fact 41% of NEETs (238,000) are actively looking for work but unable to find a job. Helping these young people find work needs to become a national priority and a focus needs to be given to their education to employment transition. Studies tell us that the key transition in a young person’s life is from learning to earning – from study to employment. If young people are not job ready, they should be directed to a course or traineeship that will help them get job-ready. Greater collaboration between actors (schools, VET providers, tertiary providers, employment services, childcare providers, and employers) is needed, along with a broader focus on not just higher education but vocational learning.
The remaining 59% who are inactive NEETS
Questions are then most often asked about inactive NEETs – the 40% of NEETs who say they would not like a job, and the 19% who would like a job but aren’t currently looking. What is it that has discouraged them or dissuaded them from entering the workforce?
Educationally, we are seeing a significant push towards tertiary educational attainment. A generation ago in 1986, more than half of all students left school in Year 10 with most going on to start work/vocational training. Today, 9 in 10 young people go on to complete Year 12, and the majority of these enter higher education. Nationally, however, 1 in 5 university students drop out in their first year of university, clearly not being ready for the task at hand or convinced of the choice they have made.
And while we are seeing an increase in university qualifications (our predictions estimate that 1 in 2 Gen Z will have a university qualification compared to 1 in 3 Gen Ys and 1 in 4 Gen Xs), we must keep in mind that everything is not just about higher education or STEM skills. It’s about developing a broad skills base that will continue to sustain Australia’s growing economic and demographic footprint.
Challenges in the skills sector
While the VET sector has seen a 50% increase in students placed in apprenticeships since the early 2000s, the sector is also subject to significant inefficiencies. Traineeship and apprenticeship completion rates are low, qualifications are hard to navigate, some federal funding for programs has been withdrawn, and employment service providers geographically only target 60% of NEETs, leaving 200,000 youth un-serviced by employment services.
The benefits of work are more than just economic
In conversations with young people, it serves us to be reminded that jobs do more good for all of us than just money. They provide a young person with a sense of independence, self-esteem, and social connection, as well as the ability to learn and stay future-proofed. The longer that young people stay out of employment, the more they are to lose connection and become social disenfranchised, leading to greater problems.
The challenge of entry will only accelerate
As we look ahead to the next 10-15 years of Australia’s job market, we estimate that 5.1 million of Australia’s jobs will become digitally disrupted. Today’s savvy school leaver is training themselves for jobs that don’t yet exist. The reality is that new jobs which will be created are more complex than the jobs they replace. If a young person is locked out of the workforce today, it is likely that they will face an even more difficult re-entry in years ahead as the skills required to fulfilk workforce demands increase.
The challenge of financial independence will also accelerate
Commonwealth funding will increasingly become tighter. The economy has natural limits, and supporting an ageing population base and those with disabilities is naturally a more pressing national priority than supporting those who can work but are choosing not to. It’s just a matter of time before government benefits to NEETs will dry up.
Having said that, it’s also important to remember that 25% of inactive NEETs and 41% of NEETs looking for work in fact have not received any government benefits to support them. For these young people, support has largely fallen back to the informal economy, with support provided by family members and friends.
The earnings challenge for today’s emerging generation
It is in fact more financially difficult to get ahead early in life than it once was. In the 1970s, for example, when many Baby Boomers graduated from university, the average graduate starting salary was equal to the average full time adult wage, while today the average graduate starting salary of $54,000 is $26,000 less than average full time annual earnings. Student debt is also higher than ever, with more than 1 in 3 (34%) registered debt agreements belonging to 25-34 year-olds, and the average university debt estimated to be around $28,000. Today’s young generations are actually beginning their earning years in more debt than we’ve seen before. Not to mention the multi-fold increase in the cost of housing – a generation ago the average Sydney house price was 5 times annual average earnings while today the average house price is 13 times the average annual full time earnings of $80,000.
Keeping it in perspective
If young people can continue to accelerate their learning, they’ll have greater chances of success. Just 11% of bachelor-degree educated young people are still looking for full time work within 4 months of completing their course, and the strength of Australia’s economy is creating positive opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship for young people to place their stamp on Australia's future.
ABOUT ELIANE MILES
Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a data analyst she understands the power of big data to inform strategic direction. Managing research across multiple sectors and locations, she is well positioned to understand the mega trends transforming the workplace, household and consumer landscapes. Her expertise is in telling the story embedded in the data and communicating the insights in visual and practical ways.
From the key demographic transformations such as population growth and the ageing workforce to social trends such as changing household structures and emerging lifestyle expectations, from generational change to the impact of technology, Eliane delivers research based presentations dealing with the big global and national trends.
With academic qualifications in community engagement and postgraduate studies in international development and global health, Eliane brings robust, research-based content to her engaging presentations and consulting. As a social researcher, she has been interviewed on these topics on prominent television programs such as National Nine News and Today, as well as on radio and in online media.
To have Eliane Miles present to your organisation on Generation Z, the state of today’s education sector, or the future world of work, contact McCrindle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 8824 3422
For today’s students, growing up with the emerging technologies at their fingertips has blurred the lines of work and social, of study and entertainment, of private and public. They now live in an open book environment – just a few clicks away from any information. They connect in a border less world across countries and cultures, and they communicate in a post-literate community where texts and tweets are brief, and where visuals and videos get the most cut-through.
At McCrindle, we are regularly engaged by a variety of organisations to assist with understanding who Generation Z is, what context they are being shaped in the traits that define them. Before we can engage this generation, we first need to understand them.
So how can we understand the emerging generations and their learning habits? Well, based on our research, here are five characteristics of today’s students:
Traditionally, learning took place in the classroom and the practice and application through homework. However, in the 21st Century, content can now be accessed through technology anywhere, and often in very visual and engaging forms. Thus we have the flipping of education where the learning takes place outside the classroom, but the essential engagement and practice is still conducted at school, by the all-important facilitator, rather than the teacher.
Not only through technology do today’s students interact, but they are mobile in terms of the jobs they will have and the homes they will live in. It is therefore important to think about how you can equip this generation with not just content but resilience in a changing world.
Today's generation of students are truly global, and are the most likely generation to work in multiple countries. They’re the most globally connected and influenced generation in history and are not limited to the local, but are global as never before.
We've called the emerging generation, Gen Alpha, but we also call them Generation Glass, because it is not just pen and paper, but iPads and screens on which they will learn, which are designed to not just display the written but the visual. While today’s students need literacy they also need digital skills to thrive in this changing world.
In an era of information overload, messages have increasingly become image-based and signs, logos and brands communicate across the language barriers with colour and picture rather than with words and phrases. Communicating symbols and pictures with stories isn’t an entirely new concept. Most ancient forms of communication such as indigenous rock art, reinforces the notion that it is pictures not words that tell the story. Visuals are also the way in which the brain processes information best. It can retain visual symbols and images rather than just written content. Our analysis of learning styles has shown the dominance in the visual and hands on learning styles, above auditory delivery form, which has traditionally dominated the classroom.
To find out more about Generation Z, visit our site generationz.com.au and if we can assist with any presentations on the topic of the emerging generations, please feel free to get in touch.
About Ashley McKenzie - Team Leader of Communications at McCrindle
Ashley McKenzie is a social researcher, trends analyst and Team Leader of Communications at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a trends analyst she understands the need for organisations to communicate with the emerging generations to effectively engage and motivate them.
From her experience in managing media relations, social media platforms, content creation and event management, Ashley is well positioned to advise how to achieve cut through in these message-saturated times.
Her expertise is in training and equipping leaders and teams on how to communicate across generational barriers.
At McCrindle, our forecasts identify trends. Our strategy informs decisions. Our research future-proofs organisations. The social, generational, economic and demographic trends impacting local communities create not only new challenges but great opportunities. Unprecedented change can sometimes lead to change fatigue where the response can be to become worried about change, or equally it can lead to change apathy which can create an indifference to change. However, by understanding the emerging trends, we can be more prepared for the changes and so rather than becoming defensive or blasé we can respond to the shifts, influence the trends and shape the future.
We are engaged by some of the leading brands and organisations across Australia to help them understand the ever-changing external environment in which they operate and to assist them in identifying and responding to the key trends.
It is a privilege to see our research in action in the Hornsby Shire’s bench-marking report. This report has been designed to inform community members, councillors, staff and other government agencies about local issues for Hornsby Shire residents. The results of our research can be summarised in the following top 10 trends we identified across the Hornsby Shire.
Top 10 trends for the Hornsby Shire
Growing population, increasing densification
Ageing population, transitioning generations
Educational attainment, professional employment
Entrepreneurship for small and home-based businesses
Property ownership and investment growth
Stable workforce, lower unemployment
Mobile lifestyle enabled though public transport and cars
A home for families and the next generations
A place of cultural and language diversity
The lifestyle shire
Read or download the report for the latest demographic and social trends insights affecting Hornsby Shire
About McCrindle Research Solutions
For great organisations, innovation is the oxygen of success. To innovate effectively, organisations need to understand the times and track the trends. Our market and social research services not only utilise the best research tools but ensure that the findings can be implemented by incorporating the most useful research output. Check our our Research Solutions pack to see how we can assist your organisation today.