The world is waking up to why companies, especially tech-oriented ones, should invest in today’s and tomorrow’s youth. You’ve heard plenty of talk about Millennials and their relationship with technology. Many of them grew up with it, almost all of them use it, and some, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, have innovated it. But there’s a new generation on the rise: Generation Z.
Generation Z grew up even more inundated with technology. Technology’s been with them since birth. Plus, it continues to change their world and the shape of their future in relation to future job prospects, how they communicate and much more.
Who Is Generation Z?
Defining generations is not an exact science, so the designations of what generation is what differ a bit from one another. Demographers say Generation Z begins somewhere with those born in years ranging form the early 1990’s to the mid 2000’s. Marketers usually place the beginning around 1996. About 60 million members of Generation Z have been born in the U.S.. That means there’s about a million more Generation Z-ers than Millennials.
While Generation Z might seem at first glance to be awfully similar to Millennials, they differ from the generations that came before them. Generation Z is the first generation to grow up with smartphones and social media. They’re more aware of how this technology affects them through issues like privacy and personal brands. And technology has more of an effect on their chances of success than any generation before them.
What Technology Can Do For Youth
Generation Z grew up watching young people make it big by founding internet start-ups. They do more and more homework and research for school papers on their computer. They know the power that technology can have for both good and bad.
Tech is an extremely fast growing industry. Currently, companies are looking to hire half a million people for open tech positions, according to Pluralsight, a number that will likely increase. More and more companies need employees with solid tech skills, even for non-tech jobs.
Although tech will be extremely important in Generation Z’s future job market, Pluralsight notes only one in four schools teach coding, and research shows education is not adequately preparing kids for technology careers.
Better Tech Education Is Needed
Tech education is much more effective and beneficial when kids get it young. In the same way children can more easily learn a second language than adults, they can also more easily learn a programming language. Not only is learning tech easier when you’re younger, it also develops important problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Tech education is especially important for low-income youth across the globe. Lots of tech-related job opportunities exist in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, for example, but employers report young people often do not possess the necessary tech-related skills. Technology has the potential to have the biggest effect for low-income people, but they also tend to have the most restricted access to technology and technology education. This is where tech companies can step in and do immense good.
What Tech Companies Do for Education
Lots of companies are already doing their part to invest in today’s youth. Microsoft donated $1 billion to assist school districts in purchasing Windows devices when President Barack Obama announced his ConnectED Initiative in 2014.
Even Kobe Bryant, the retired basketball player, has decided to help out. His investment company, Bryant Stibel, has invested millions into tech and media businesses. One recent example of a Bryant Stibel-backed company is Vipkid, a virtual classroom program through which English-speaking educators teach Chinese kids.
Tech companies can invest in youth in lots of ways. Literally investing in companies that help teach kids about technology or give them access to technology like Bryant Stibel does is one. Donating money, time or devices to schools is another. Experimental learning, which emphasizes play over dry academics, is also a great way to get kids invested in tech.
Setting up scholarship funds encourages and enables kids to pursue higher education and a career in technology. A grant, such as Hewlett-Packard’s HP EdTech Innovators Award, which awards $40,000 to educators who use technology in their teaching, provides another way to help. Some companies, such as Microsoft, have created technology-related competitions and educational programs.
How Does It Help Tech Companies?
When tech companies support technology access and education for youth, it can, of course, do great things for the youth they affect. But it can also help tech companies.
Some experts believe that the industry sometimes known as KidTech is going to explode. It’s already growing:
- Google recently bought Launchpad, a company that makes digital toys for kids. YouTube and Vine offer versions specifically for kids.
- The startup Kano makes computers kids can easily build and code.
- With the opportunities in digital technology for kids also comes a whole new world of advertising prospects. A company called SuperAwesome offers advertising services specifically geared towards kids.
Donating to schools and other education programs can also benefit tech companies directly. When a child learns how to use technology made by a certain company, they are more likely to prefer that company’s products when they get older. Plus, who knows where the next great tech innovator or employee will come from? Giving kids the tools to succeed in tech might help grow your company. They could even alter the entire industry in the future.
Generation Z Is the Future
Technology is ingrained into the lives of Generation Z like no generation before it. It’s not only important to them now but also to their futures. Investing in technology education and access for today’s youth enables them to pursue success in areas where they would otherwise face immense difficulties. Besides, it’s good for businesses, too. When tech companies invest in kids, they also invest in the tech industry, in themselves and in the future.