Due to the seismic shifts in the generational makeup of the workforce, employers need to reassess how they hire, train and equip their staff, a new study finds.
The study, conducted by CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the information technology (IT) industry, indicated that in the next five to 10 years, Generation Y workers will dominate the workforce just as their Baby Boomer counterparts did in the past. This means that employers need to reexamine their current practices to attract and adapt to 20- and 30-something employees.
The study revealed that two thirds of Generation Y respondents, a population raised in the information age, assessed their technology skills as "cutting edge" or "upper tier." As workers, they expect to use those skills on the job. As job seekers, they consider their technological aptitude to be a selling point for employers.
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At the same time, these workers have high expectations for technology in the workplace; more than six in 10 Generation Y respondents and 75 percent of Generation Y males stated that an employer's tech "savvy-ness" is a factor in deciding whether or not to accept a job offer.
The research also found that 74 percent of younger workforce members use a smartphone for business, while only 37 percent of Baby Boomers do so. Other preferred devices among Generation Y include tablets, laptops and GPS.
Younger workers also place a high value on social media, according to the study. Whereas Baby Boomers consider social media as a personal tool, Generation Y sees the worth of this technology on the job: 43 percent believe their social media skills are an important part of their skill set, and 36 percent say they need access to currently restricted social media tools to do a better job.
Further, Generation Y respondents showed a tendency for hands-on problem solving and personal autonomy. The study found that younger workers would rather troubleshoot issues on their own or with the IT department, unlike Baby Boomers, who would typically rather hand off IT issues completely. Generation Y also favors flexibility, such as training at their own pace and having the option to telecommute.
The study, "Generational Research on Technology and its Impact in the Workplace," was based on a May 2013 online survey of 700 respondents from different age groups and with varying incomes. All respondents worked in an office environment with some form of technology.