How Do You Train A Generation Like Gen Y?
- August 17th, 2009
- 4 Comments
Young people looking to enter the work force are finding themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. Not just because the jobs themselves are dwindling, but also because of the stress induced by inter-generational miscommunication complicating matters before a Gen Y worker even sets foot in an office. That is, the question of training.
The term has become increasingly nebulous as companies at once embrace Millennials as digital natives, and cry out about their lack of a traditional foundation. Recently I caught an article in The Guardian on a report (conducted by a company identified as a “training watchdog,”) that found a “critical” skills gap in “writing, editing and interviewing” among aspiring media professionals. It went on to argue that what the industry required was a workforce capable of combining traditional skills with a new digital and technical capabilities.
A combination, that presumably based on this report, the young recruits surveyed hadn’t mastered. But can they be held completely accountable? With no universal set of standards for how exactly to strike this balance of old and new skills, it’s not surprising that many would appear to come up short.
And although this piece was specifically about the publishing industry in the UK, the same could be said about general office etiquette anywhere—with older office mates believing there is a missing link between peer socializing skills exhibited online and those demonstrated in person, i.e. younger employees wanting to do evaluations over IM, not bothering to picking up the phone, etc. Not to say there isn’t some truth to these accusations (I’m sure workers of all ages occasionally hit the send button on angry emails before picking up the phone.) I believe there is a gap between having these skills digitally and translating them into effective inter-generational communication, as well as being able to think critically about sources of information vs. just quickly finding whatever we’re looking for in search results.
I would reinforce an argument we’ve touched on before: that managers need to work with this generation to harness the potential of their intuitive digital skills and find a way to apply them effectively at work. Even before that, we need to start addressing these issues in education, as some institutions have started to do, by integrating a new curriculae (i.e. a new liberal arts) that takes the digital economy into consideration. Even at home, where many teens and Millennials are responsible for pushing parents to adapt to their chosen means of communication, there’s room for some informal “training,” be it in the form of extended phone calls or face to face interaction.
Ypulse readers, what do you think are the best practices for training Gen Y workers?
Howard Rheingold on Essential Media Literacies [Socialmedia.biz]