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Bringing tech-savvy into the Workforce; an opinion piece

Today, you could say there is a global technology skills shortage. Demand for mobile applications and other consumer-technology is growing, but we just don’t have enough computer scientists or other tech-skilled graduates or school leavers. This situation is partly due to the fact that engineering and software development are wrongly perceived as something that only very clever, scientifically minded people can do (we’ve all heard one matriculant or another say “I can’t do that, I didn’t take higher grade maths/science”).

[quote_center]“I can’t do that, I didn’t take higher grade maths/science”[/quote_center]

This is also partly because, to date, coding and related jobs have been seen as geeky and boring – when in reality most are pretty creative. The hope is that the pervasive exposure to, reliance on and delight in technologies that today’s teenagers are experiencing will change these views and encourage more young people into the profession.

Indeed, many of today’s programmers were once teenagers who enjoyed playing games on their Commodore 64’s.

Today’s teenagers’ relationship with technology has the potential to bring about great change. The fact that they think tech is cool and have integrated it into their lives to such a degree also heralds another change.

Whether they follow a technical path or not, these teenagers are entering the workforce. The millennial generation that they are part of will account for 70 percent of the global workforce in just ten years’ time and when they enter the workforce, they won’t be leaving their tech savvy at home.

This is something businesses need to be ready for and embrace. Companies in particular need to factor this tech evolution into their sales and engagement plans. They need to ensure that their sales teams are technologically savvy and adaptable. They need to be comfortable with downloading and consuming new technologies and they also need to be flexible enough to quickly understand new products and services and assimilate them into their working life. Why? Simply because they are likely to be selling to these millennials who themselves are heavily invested in consumer technology and who don’t see adoption of new processes or technologies as anything other than the norm. Sales teams that can do this will be much more successful.

One way we are seeing this today is amongst professionals that tweet a lot and regularly post to LinkedIn groups that are relevant to their target market. Not only do they now have thousands of followers, but they are forming professional bonds there too. They can learn about customer concerns, collaborate on business cases and offer examples of how they have worked with similar businesses to help them implement tactics that resolve these issues. Indeed, some of our own customers can collaborate and share best practice examples there too.

This can all be done from the sofa before their peers, who take a more traditional approach, have even tied their shoelaces. Social selling is not an approach you would necessarily expect from a business to business company, like Avaya, but it is one that is working very well.

Similarly, the expectation of quick, easy adoption of new technology into working practices that millennials bring into the workforce is already having an impact on the way our customers want to buy from us. This ‘Android generation’ expects the same easily deployable, open standards, and pay-per-usage model in the enterprise space that they have quickly become accustomed to in their social lives. The ability to turn services on and up as the business need dictates rather than as the vendor’s licensing terms allow is a commercial model that sales teams need to assimilate fast.

Teenagers and young millennials have grown up in a world where they take technologies like the Internet for granted. Now, they are fast becoming a sizeable force in the workplace. Yet many of the people who run the companies that employ or partner with them are of a different generation and are not necessarily interacting with these potential customers in the way that best suits them. The time for us to adopt new ways of working is now

Papi Mabele
Tech enthusiast at heart. Lover of all things digital. Papi is the founder of SA Vibe and has been sharing his love for gadgetry since 2010. Papi sees no need for wearable tech in his busy schedule and considers the Xbox One as non existant. He may come across as bias at times, and still holds a grudge at BlackBerry for creating the 8520.