In the previous Talent Talk, we discussed the newest segment of the workforce — people around 20 to 25 years old, known as Generation Z. Only 5% of the current workforce today, they will number 51 million by 2030, so we need to understand them, and fast.
This group could be particularly significant for the plastics industry, as studies have shown that they are more attracted to manufacturing than their older peers, in part due to the recent pandemic that highlighted the importance of what we make, from toilet paper to automobiles, and where we make it. We addressed this in a Talent Talk column in October 2021: "Some Good News from Gen Z."
If you are a millennial hiring manager, or a baby boomer like me, you may have shaken your head at the entire group of Gen Zers in the past, but I urge you to join me in moving quickly through the first four stages of grief so we can reach the stage of acceptance. We are going to need these men and women.
Gen Z is the first generation to live their entire lives immersed in technology from the moment they became self-aware. From their perspective, they are not addicted to their devices — their devices are extensions of themselves and how they communicate. Because this is so firmly in their DNA, they tend to prefer self-directed learning when it comes to training for their jobs.
Because they are wired to be constantly connected — to social media, for example — they thrive in a workplace that values frequent communication and transparency. Along with this, they realize that in-person communication is not the only option — for jobs that can be done remotely, they typically will not understand why they must be in an office full time. They will be drawn to hybrid situations.
Next week we will conclude this topic with a few things that your company can do now and in the months ahead to give you an advantage on hiring and retaining Gen Zers.
About the author
Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].