Raena Greenbaum, Special Correspondent
Recent headlines and studies about millennials in the workforce share discouraging news about this generation’s preparedness for the future. Millennials are considered to be those born between the late 1980’s and the early 2000’s, and have been generally characterized as “unprepared for the 21st century workforce,” and “struggling to find their first good job”. However, contrary to what most people are probably thinking, millennials are prepared due to the fact that we have grown up using technology to advance our social skills and savviness.
One common idea is that this generation texts so much that we lack the required social skills necessary to effectively communicate in person. However, while those skills are important, this is the age of digital communication. Digital literacy is imperative for today’s jobs, and according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, “Ninety-six percent of working Americans use new communications technologies as part of their daily life.” Yes, all employees will have face-to-face meetings as well, but just growing up constantly interacting with our peers is enough to develop social competence. Communication skills aren’t necessarily deteriorating. In fact, people are even more likely to spend a lot of time communicating with others than ever before, a concept referred to as accelerated change (“A Brief History of Intellectual Discussion of Accelerating Change”). This result is simply due to the fact that it is easy and convenient to get in touch with peers. This convenience has actually helped to turn the “Net Generation” into a generation of social experts. We are an extremely social generation, and the heavy social media usage is not just a result of the development of modern technology; it is a byproduct of the constant need for contact with other people. To say that our social skills are hindered by technology would be to overlook the vast new windows of communication that have been opened and the fact that communication is shifting toward the digital world in this technological era.
Also, in order to get a job nowadays, it is absolutely vital to be technologically savvy, which is another reason why millennials will excel in the workforce. Online skills are not only “necessary for seeking, applying for, and getting today’s jobs” (“Fact Sheet: Digital Literacy”), but also for using “business technology such as video conferencing, social networks and virtual office technology” (“Fact Sheet: Digital Literacy”).
Internet-based faxing, networked computers, laser printers, and advanced phone systems are just a few examples of technology that is commonly utilized by businesses. Technology in the workplace allows businesses to expand quickly and efficiently, and “remove workplace boundaries that previously limited business expansion.” With business technology, companies can target a wider customer base and grow more quickly, and to higher levels, which is necessary in order to be competitive (“Importance of Technology in the Workplace). For these reasons, many companies would not hire a candidate who is not already adept in using modern technology, especially because it takes time and money to teach employees these skills. This is an issue that millennials don’t have to worry about in the slightest when being considered for a job position.
While I am confident that millennials are prepared and fully able to be successful in the workforce, we will join either way. We are the newest generation of workers, and already the largest in the workforce. One-third of American workers are ages 18-34, and that number will only grow as more millennials graduate from college and find jobs. As of now, no one can be sure what that means for the workplace, but we will certainly find out soon enough.