I had a random request from Citrix to come out to a panel event that they were holding in downtown Toronto — not sure what media lists I’m on, but fun to check out to events I wouldn’t normally attend.
The premise is that it was a panel of one millennial, one gen X and one boomer discussing how their attitudes towards work and technology:
- Anna Fitzpatrick, Senior Millennial Correspondent
- Dr. Mary Donohue, Founder & CEO Donohue Learning Technologies
- Charles Harnick, Mediator & Arbitrator
This was moderated by Michael Murphy, VP & Country Manager, Citrix Canada.
Donohue is a social scientist, and she started with the definitions of these age divisions (I fall on the cusp of boomer and gen X, although I act like a millennial).
The focus is really on how technology enables different business models (Citrix is, after all, a technology company), and we heard from the panelists about how Twitter, mobile phones and other technologies have levelled the playing field for small businesses regardless of age, gender, race, location and other factors: it’s now possible for your services to compete with bigger companies.
Harnick (a former Ontario Attorney General and politician) commented on how it’s necessary to invest in the education of the workforce: training people to be able to do the work required, mentoring, and taking advantage of the different skills that a non-traditional degree can bring to a traditional workplace.
Donohue talked about the necessity for developing soft skills, since “everything else can be replaced by AI”, which might be a somewhat naive view of AI capabilities. Harnick agreed that although STEM education is critical, there has to be more than just the technological skills for success — entry-level jobs are disappearing in the face of automation in many different industries.
Fitzpatrick talked about the gig lifestyle for work, and admitted that although it’s more easily enabled by technology, a lot of millennials don’t really want to be working several precarious gigs, but would prefer to have full-time regular employment.
Donohue had some really interesting comments on how you have to understand someone’s generation and their abilities with different communication media in order to really understand how to communicate with them and what they are getting out of things that you communicate with them. I don’t agree with her characterization purely along generational lines, since in my experience, older generations who are disrupted from their status quo will adapt quickly to newer communication modes.
There was a discussion on internet security and privacy, and different views that different generations have about the issues and practices. Again, I don’t think that security practices are necessarily generational, but much more about an individual’s experience; privacy is a different story, with a bigger intentional digital footprint being left (in general) by younger generations, although the unintentional footprint of everyone who uses social media is fast catching up. An audience member commented on how security and privacy education needs to start in high school or earlier; I suspect that while the younger generation needs some lessons on privacy, the older needs to hone their security skills.
This was pretty lightweight on both the social science and technology, although Donohue had some points worth considering and I’ll be checking out her TEDx talk.