How to teach Gen Z to be Collaborative, Innovative and Responsive

Monday, February 06, 2017

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

Encouraging collaboration

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 It’s a place to learn interpersonal skills that will never become outdated—like how to collaborate, resolve conflict, clearly communicate ideas and teach others.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.

Learn more by watching Mark’s recorded talk from Education on Air.

Future Careers for the Emerging Generations

Thursday, January 05, 2017

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.

Generation Z defined; The 5 characteristics of today's students

Friday, September 09, 2016

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 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.


Growing number of Australians moving to New Zealand

Monday, August 15, 2016

They are calling it a slice of heaven on a budget, with a growing number of Australian families packing their bags for a better life in New Zealand.

For the first time in about a quarter of a century, we have more Australians headed to New Zealand than New Zealanders heading to Australia. We aren't talking about people as retirees or as young people, but in those middle years, those family years and those key employment years, they are the ones making the move across the Tasman and heading to New Zealand.

Most of them are ending up in the Kiwi Capitol, Wellington, where you get much more bang for your buck compared to the much more expensive Auckland.

IT Specialists are in hot demand in New Zealand, and dominate the highest paying jobs. A System’s Architect have a median salary of $125,000 per year. Although an Engineering Manager isn’t all that far behind at $105,000 per year. The lowest paying jobs see Caregivers average $32,000 per year, while an Assistant Store Manager brings in $35,000 per year.

Australians are making the move because of jobs, affordable housing and a better quality of life. For a country that for so long has been tagged as Australia’s little cousin, it appears New Zealand is all grown up.

A Snapshot of Education Across Australia

Monday, July 18, 2016

We have been looking at different aspects of life in Australia and we are turning our focus on how each state rates when it comes to education. Are we more educated than we used to be? In 1986 49% of students completed year 12 and these days its fast approaching 90%.

Let’s talk about tertiary education across the generations

We are becoming an even cleverer country as measured by university completion so if we look at the Baby Boomers, 1 in 5 have a university degree, for Generation X, that’s 1 in 4, for Generation Y its 1 in 3 but for today’s school students, about 1 in 2 of them will end up with a university degree in their lifetime.

How does university attendance compare across the states?

If we look at 18 – 24 year olds, who are full time students, we have the ACT and Victoria leading the charge there and the other states not too far behind, while the Northern Territory is a fair way behind.

When looking at school performance, which state is performing the best as they hit year 7?

The NAPLAN results allows us to compare across Australia. If you look at the percentage of students in year 7 who are above the national minimum standard, again good results across the board. ACT and Victoria again leading Australia as far as the proportion of students above the standards. The other states are close behind, again with the Northern Territory a bit off the pace.

Having an education usually means a lower risk of unemployment, how did the states rate?

Pretty good, Australia as a whole is going very well, with 5.7% unemployment, that’s well below a lot of comparable nations. It has gone down this year, not up and if you look at the states that are doing better than that with a lower unemployment rate, the Northern Territory and ACT are performing best however some other states particularly South Australia and Tasmania are a bit behind.

Watch Mark McCrindle's full interview on The Daily Edition here

Future proofing careers: How to stay relevant for tomorrow’s workforce

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

44% of Australian jobs (5.1 million current jobs) are at risk from digital disruption in the next 20 years, and 75% of Australia’s fastest growing occupations require STEM Skills - Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Yet digitalisation is not the only thing affecting the change in tomorrow’s job market.

Population trends both nationally and regionally are redefining Australia. Demographic and social trends, such as emerging cultural diversity, the implications of an ageing population, household transformations, and increased mobility are creating significant changes. Workforce trends such as teleworking, tenure shifts, multi-career expectations, and emerging attraction, retention, and engagement factors are informing the demands on 21st century workers.

As these technological, generational, educational, and demographic shifts redefine job demands, it’s more important than ever before for individuals to be innovative, collaborative, proactive, and responsive to ensure they remain future-proofed for tomorrow’s workforce.

What does it mean to stay innovative?

In the next 10 years, there will be significant shifts to the labour market. There is a basic reality around job functions in developed economies with a relatively high cost of labour: everything that can be automated, will be automated, and every role that can be offshored to lower cost-base countries will be offshored. However, technology and business innovation will create new and diverse roles in areas that technology can’t compete. Roles that require creative input, people-focus, leadership skills or high-level communication talent can be futureproofed as they are not be effectively replaceable by technology.

Being Collaborative

It’s important not just to focus on academic outcomes but the people skills; not just the learning, but on the ability to work well with others. 1997 was the first year in which we began spending more time looking at screens than in in face to face interaction, and today, individuals spend over 10 hours on screens every day. In tomorrow’s job market, if someone has a good ability to communicate, motivate, and engage – they’ll go far.

Staying Proactive

In today’s flat-structured work environments, people need to be self-leaders and managers and stay self-directed. In previous decades it was the norm to have a very structured workplace with a chain of command where employers were looking for compliance rather than proactive innovation. Today there is the need for a self-starter mentality in every organisation – for employees at all levels to take charge and show proactive initiative.

Being Responsive

It’s important to keep eyes on the external environment. Individuals who can not only remain experts at their craft but extend their knowledge to various domain areas will stay future-proofed. A career that is future-proofed may in fact by its very nature change and adjust nearly every year. Be responsive and observe what’s happening around you.

By being innovative, collaborative, proactive, and responsive to the changes taking place, individuals can navigate the challenge of being future-proofed for tomorrow’s workforce.


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 present at your next event, please feel free to get in touch via email to or call through to 02 8824 3422

Millennials in the Workplace [MEDIA]

Monday, May 30, 2016

Workplaces with swings, cubby houses, and video games might seem to belong more in a childcare centre than an office, but they’re the kind of workspaces being designed by the Millennials of today, with the reasoning that fostering creative energy at work makes for a more productive team.

Mark McCrindle defines Millennials (or ‘Generation Y’) as those born between 1980 and 1994, and hence, those who are coming of age or beginning their careers in the new millennium. Generation Y has a reputation for being the ‘selfie society’, infatuated with themselves, their smartphones, social media, and celebrities. However, their expertise in the harnessing of technology, coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit, could be an explanation for their ascent in the world at a rate faster than any other generation before them.

Millennials seek leadership opportunities, and desire to create jobs for themselves, rather than looking for a job – Generation Y is one that doesn’t need a job for survival and security reasons. Mark McCrindle attributes the Millennials’ changing ways of thinking as what has empowered them to become the ‘entrepreneurs of today’.

See the full story featuring Mark McCrindle below:

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