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4 Skills That Digital Natives Will Bring to Your Shop Floor

4 Skills That Digital Natives Will Bring to Your Shop Floor

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4 Skills That Digital Natives Will Bring to Your Shop Floor

May 3, 2021

Jim Tuttle
woman in a hardhat on shop floor

Millennium babies have come of age. Today’s graduates were born into a world where we Asked Jeeves for the answers, feared the Y2K bug, and played snake on our Nokia 3310. But nostalgia aside, these retro references reveal something important: the new generation of professionals are digital natives.

People born in the late 90s and early 00s – referred to as Generation Z – only know a world driven by technology. Growing up, their desire for screens and swiping was purely personal. But now they’re old enough to start careers, tech will play a critical role in the companies they choose to work for.  

Why does this matter to manufacturers? Because many young professionals are targeting your sector. According to Industry Week, manufacturing has been suggested as a career for a third (32%) of Gen Zs. And embracing their enthusiasm for all things tech could bring a whole new skillset to your shop floor. Let’s take a look at how.

1.     Digital Fluency

As we’ve already mentioned, Generation Z was born into a digital world. They don’t know life before the internet, so they naturally turn to technology to run communications, interactions and processes.

Gen Z is the perfect group to accelerate your digital transformation (DX) strategy. As Baby Boomers retire, their roles will be taken over by younger, tech-savvy professionals. But the new breed of manufacturing worker will expect a seamless software experience.  

If your business isn’t currently tech-driven, it may deter young professionals from coming on board. Dell research has revealed that where Generation Z candidates have a choice of job offers, 91% will go with the company that has a better technology package.

Gen Z not only knows technology; they depend on it. And they expect your shop floor to be underpinned by manufacturing ERP software that automates processes and enables effective decision-making.

2.     Adaptability

One of the digital transformation barriers that manufacturers have faced to-date has been the willingness with which your workforce has embraced new ways of working.

Not only do Gen Z want technology; they’re highly adaptable in the way they use it. They’ve grown up in a culture where technical updates and new models are being released all the time. As a result, they are open to exploring functionality and acquiring digital skills.  

A younger workforce will encourage change within your manufacturing enterprise; according to Deloitte, 69% of Gen Z crave a motivating and stimulating work environment. This group is always searching for newer, shinier ways for technology to improve their lives—and their careers will be no different. If there’s a way of running the shop floor better, they want to know. And they want access to the latest manufacturing ERP technology, to continually enhance their performance.

3.     Integrated Mindset

While there’s a lot of negative talk about the impact of screen time, an obsession with technology is very useful to manufacturing businesses. Generation Z is used to multi-tasking between screens, and they’ll bring this integrated approach to the shop floor.

Digital natives don’t see channels and devices; they move easily from in-person to online transactions in the way they communicate, shop and consume information. As McKinsey notes, “for consumers who are always and everywhere online, the online–offline boundary doesn’t exist.”

In the professional environment, this integrated mindset has two main benefits:

1.     Gen Z is very fluid in the way they use technology on the job, moving between desktop/laptop computers, mobiles and tablets to action tasks and analyze data. 2.     They want a consolidated approach, so will happily utilize multiple systems and data feeds in one digital dashboard, if it enables them to do their job better.

The challenge for manufacturers is to find an industry ERP solution with the flexibility to integrate functionality, and provide Gen Z employees with every insight they need to work hard.  

4.     Statistical Savviness

Generation Z has grown up with social media; many of the graduates entering today’s workforce have already built their personal brand online. As a result, they measure their popularity in likes, clicks and comments.

Being used to tracking and quantifying success, Gen Z can quickly translate this approach from their personal lives to professional KPIs.

In order to satisfy their demand for performance markers, however, manufacturers will need to be clear in goal-setting and rapid in feeding back. This stat-savvy group wants real-time data insights to quantify their achievements and identify areas for improvement.

Attract the Strongest Emerging Talent

As these examples show, there are huge advantages to hiring digital natives. The manufacturing landscape is continually evolving, and Generation Z could be the missing catalyst for your digital transformation strategy.

However, manufacturers need to beware of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. You can’t wait for younger professionals to join your organization before you invest in technology. Gen Z want to see that you’re serious about digital fluency and have invested in the software to enable integrated, data-powered working before they commit to your business.

Today’s graduates take their career choices seriously. According to Aurecon data, Generation Z professionals view employer values as more important than salary. And in the manufacturing space, this means finding an employer that is on a digital transformation journey.

If you haven’t got a manufacturing ERP solution to automate repetitive operations and drive data-led efficiencies, you’re unlikely to attract the strongest emerging talent.

Aptean’s Industrial Manufacturing ERP software empowers manufacturers to create a digitally driven, efficient shop floor environment. Get in touch to find out more.

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