Meet the digital generation of the work force

03/18/2011 10:02:11 AM
Produce Marketing Association

You’ve heard plenty about the baby boomers and their offspring, Generation X and Generation Y.

Margi Prueitt
Produce Marketing Association

Now meet Generation Z’s digital natives — and get ready for the profound cultural and business shift that is coming with them.

Digital natives and digital immigrants are terms coined by author Marc Prensky in 2001.

He was one of the first to predict the influence of digital media on learning styles. Prensky defines natives as those young people who were born after the introduction of digital technology.

They have always had at least one electronic device in their hands, be it a mobile phone, game system, laptop or tablet. They learn and communicate very differently, preferring pictures, sounds and videos to words, and hyper-links to user-created content.

Their global connections helped create a profound social conscience, with 61% of natives feeling responsible for making a difference and 83% saying they will trust a company more if it is socially or environmentally responsible.

Natives socialize via Facebook and Twitter, they converse by text and instant messaging.
Chances are you’ve noticed their ability to converse without speaking a word, or their habit of simultaneously consuming multiple media.

It’s not a lack of attention span, but an example of how this generation thinks and acts differently from most of your current work force — those digital immigrants who can remember life before desktop computers and e-mail.

Digital immigrants still typically rely on real world social connections. They are linear thinkers and processors, relying on text information from a single source, rather than multiple sources.

Prepare for the future

In this decade, digital natives will profoundly disrupt our business in two ways: as employees, and as consumers of your products. Are you ready?

For employers, our job will be to attract the most talented of these kids as new employees.

The Produce Marketing Association has consistently identified “attracting talented people to the industry” as one of the key long-term challenges facing our industry worldwide.

Thanks to the PMA and the Jay and Ruthie Pack Foundation, the PMA/Pack Family Career Pathways Program has been working since 2004 to expose college students studying food and agriculture to the produce industry.


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