There is not company, that can ignore the major trend toward digitization. Those who don’t at least ride the wave (if they don’t surf ahead of it) will have a hard time surviving on the market in the future. The digital transformation is not only a challenge for entrepreneurs – employees also have to get on board. But this is precisely where the problem lies – because employers are having difficulty reaching the so-called “digital natives” and getting them interested in working for the company.
Challenges in digitization: There is a lack of digital competence
A survey conducted by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in 2021 under the title “Digitalization with challenges” shows: Almost every second company sees the complexity of converting existing systems and processes as the greatest challenge. One-third of respondents are increasingly concerned about how to properly prepare staff and managers for the digital transformation through further training. More than two-thirds of employers are certain that employees would need to be trained primarily in the use of digital technologies. But the topics of agile working, flexible work organization and the development of new products and business models are also on the agenda.
Generation Y has now firmly arrived in working life and is already doing its part in digitization. But being able to operate Office applications intuitively or research on the Internet is often not enough to develop new digital business models or introduce complex software systems. Hopes are pinned on Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2009), which is currently entering the workforce and has grown up with digital media and mobile devices from birth.
Digitally literate professionals: Where to get them?
When it comes to recruiting Generation Z, there are two challenges at once:
- Young people are hard to reach with traditional recruiting methods. They prefer media, in which most employers have so far participated at most experimentally, but not across the board. This is also one of the reasons why many trainees abandon online applications.
- They may be adept at using digital media. However, consuming them is not the same as (further) developing them. They, too, must first acquire the skills necessary to drive digital transformation.
Employers are therefore faced with the challenge of harnessing the potential of young people and developing them into digitally mature professionals. It’s a big responsibility that they can only meet with plan and calculation. Employers must ensure that young people develop digital media literacy, agile skills, and soft skills.
And at the same time, they are adapting to the changing approach to finding the right career. Career-finding events are increasingly taking a back seat, and traditional career counseling methods no longer have much value for young people. Their first port of call is more likely to be Internet platforms and social networks. They rely on the experiences and opinions of YouTube and Instagram influencers or TikTok stars.
DigitalSchoolStory project: agile and digital skills for students
An outstanding example of the targeted preparation of students for their future professional life is the non-profit project DigitalSchoolStory. Supported by numerous entrepreneurs, projects are carried out in school classes. Divided into small teams, the students work out the learning material themselves and prepare it in videos in social media format.
This gives them a completely new approach to what at first glance appear to be boring topics, develops their own motivation and allows them to work in an agile manner. The teachers support their students in developing digital and social skills and change from being knowledge mediators to learning companions. The highlight is the live exchange about the development of the videos and the feedback from popular TikTok, Instagram and YouTube stars. The project can be implemented for all types of schools and classes from the fifth grade upwards and is not tied to a specific school subject.
With a new learning culture to a consistent willingness to learn
In these and similar projects, students learn an important skill that all companies need but that is all too rarely practiced: a constant willingness to learn. Challenges such as the digital transformation in particular show how important the lifelong development of employees is. They are the capital of every company.
Even today’s digital natives will be powerless in the face of further development in just a few years if they do not succeed in continually adapting to the latest developments.
But back to the DigitalSchoolStory project: It’s all about digital storytelling. At the end of the day, it’s “just” another way to learn new content – but in a different way. Instead of passively consuming information or being preached to by the teacher, students become the creators of new knowledge themselves. Their learning process is accompanied by a story that demands their attention and keeps them engaged. What is associated with stories automatically passes more easily into long-term memory.
In this atmosphere, learning itself changes: students discover their own joy of experimentation, enter unknown territory and leave their comfort zone – or their consumption zone. Instead of just consuming content, they learn to create it themselves. And that all too often leaves them wanting more.
New error culture: mistakes expressly encouraged
In addition, students playfully learn a new kind of error culture. One in which mistakes are no longer dismissed as a necessary evil or even punished. Rather, one in which obstacles are seen as an imperative step on the path to the ideal solution.
Young people understand: Mistakes are nothing bad, nothing to be ashamed of. They offer opportunities to gain a more comprehensive understanding of an issue and to improve oneself. At the same time, in this atmosphere, participants develop the self-confidence to stand by their opinion, to defend their point of view and not to close themselves off to new things.
How do employers reach Generation Z?
Employers who want to attract members of Generation Z to their company, whether as trainees, young professionals or graduates, can use these and other methods:
- They should be confident in their use of social media. Visually appealing and professionally but approachably managed accounts are the most important prerequisites for engaging in conversation with young people.
- Short videos that take into account the principles of storytelling are the optimal medium to appeal to young people.
- Authenticity is particularly important for young people on the Internet. Personalized content that picks up on their values and genuine insights into the company create a basis of trust.
- At the same time, employers should not tire of developing their school marketing. Despite the strong presence in social media, perception at lectures, Girls’ and Boys’ Days, open days or internships plays a major role in shaping employer branding.
- Digitally supported training management not only makes it easier for employers to plan trainee rotations through various departments, but also facilitates the targeted teaching of content according to the training framework and the monitoring of learning progress. The rexx training management offers trainees the possibility to conveniently keep their report book digitally.
Bringing digital young talent into the company is not a foregone conclusion. Employers should start at numerous points to make the target group aware of their opportunities. It is essential that they discover their own desire to learn, show a willingness to experiment, and develop a positive attitude toward learning.
For the existing workforce, reverse mentoring can be a useful option: In age tandems, younger and older employees exchange digital skills for technical expertise – both sides benefit and thus take a further step toward lifelong learning.
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