There is nothing better than a fresh perspective on the future of digital technology, especially from those most likely to create and use it in their impending working lives within the next 5 – 10 years. I am talking about the next generation work force, aka those currently in their mid-to-late teens.
I recently had the opportunity to conduct several mock job interviews with students from a local college in West London, as part of Capgemini’s Schools Outreach programme. Apart from this being a welcome change in routine (if such a thing exists for a consultant), it was most illuminating to learn what these young candidates expected from a prospective employer, and equally what they imagined an employer might expect of them.
So once initial nerves had settled, and the individual conversations started flowing, it quickly became apparent that some of these young people were already rather accomplished, and that perhaps they should be the ones telling us what we could expect from the work place of tomorrow. For example:
- One young entrepreneur ran his own a digital agency, which he’d founded along with a few friends, and he clearly already knew more about digital services than his peers, and teachers / career advisors
- Another had created a charity health info website which consistently came up in the first couple of pages across search engines – a clear testimony of SEO skills, which is pretty much in demand within the digital industry
- Others had done something or other with the web skills they gained on the course, or elsewhere (e.g. one set up a simple ecommerce website for Mom’s business). And, Oh yes, their social media savvy was very much in evidence, as some had already checked me out on Google / Linkedin / Twitter and came prepared with some interesting questions / opinions about my favourite topics of digital content and rights management.
Overall, I was really impressed by the level of awareness and keen interest shown by these students, but that does not mean everything points to a rosy future for the emerging digital work force. For example, according to one career advisor, there are significantly more boys than girls on the ICT courses, hence the mock interviews featured more male candidates than their equally gifted but less represented female counterparts.
Unfortunately, this situation is also sadly mirrored in the IT industry and work force of today. However, there are signs that things will continue to improve, as long as the likes of Marisa Mayer (Yahoo!), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Padmasree Warrior (Cisco), as well as Capgemini’s Christine Hodgson, and Maggie Buggie, continue to help light the way forward.
My participation at this event was made possible by our Director of Schools Outreach Programme, and I would encourage both peers and industry colleagues to go ahead and give it a try if you ever get the opportunity in your respective regions and organisations.