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The digital immigrants and the digital natives…

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I heard this terminology for the first time yesterday during a radio show.  I am a Boomer (a late Boomer, mind you), not born into the digital age.  Therefore, I am also a digital immigrant since I migrated to it or acquired and mastered it after its introduction into society.  My children, however, are digital natives, as technology existed at the time of their births and continues to innovate our lives (my GenXers and Millenials). 

These terms may turn out to have deeper implications for our world.  One day I may have to protect myself if I feel I have been discriminated against due to my immigrant status.  Will there be new legislation to ensure there are no barriers to my continued presence in the workplace?  Can I expect preferential treatment in employment policies and practices because I am now part of a designated group?  Should I initiate a cultural centre that aims to conserve the traditions and customs of my pre-digital ancestry?   Will there, one day, exist a NAP – National Association for the Preservation of pre-digital humanity?   I mean no disrespect to those for whom similar legislation is unfortunately necessary but as Traditionalists and Boomers delay retirement, digital immigrants in society today are taking all necessary measures.  Many are, in fact, going to night school to be integrated to this digital society.  We will NOT go away quietly.  We will not go back to where we came from.

My children spurn my digital immigrant heritage and forge their new lives as natives on this digital planet.  And why not?  Should they even cast a backward but nostalgic glance at a manual typewriter, rotary phone, vinyl record or monogrammed stationary set?  They will one day eulogize me saying, “Ah yes, our dear departed mother… do you know she used to handwrite her thank you cards?  What a classic!  For some reason, she always referred to my iPod as a Walkman – what was that all about?”

Digital immigrant, indeed.  Im hu Im

 (In case you require translation:,+Just+Type+Your+Message+in+the+left+box)

The school of hard knocks keeps knocking…

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I recently read an article about the Lost Generation – the group of 16 to 24 year-olds who are not finding the meaningful employment they expected after finishing high school, college or university and even graduate school.  Not to seem unsympathetic but throughout the course of history, plenty of kids graduate (or drop-out) and are faced with a job market that clashes with their expectations.  Nevertheless, unemployment is soaring within this age group as they simply cannot find jobs or are accepting roles well beneath their education level. workplace

We add to this labour pool crisis the fact that this recent recession has left many companies unable to meet their pension obligations, resulting in many seniors delaying their retirement and retirees now looking for employment to augment their diminished monthly income. 

Set aside all the broken dreams realized by these two age groups, companies today are faced with a policy dilemna:  how to manage four generations of people at work.  In many organizations today the workforce make up includes Seniors (the over-50 crowd who may or many not be on the brink of retirement), Boomers (the 40-50 crowd), Generation Xers (the 30-40 crowd) and Generation Yers (>16-30 crowd, also sometimes called the Millenials)1.  Wherever the great dilemmas exist, is where there is great growth.  I wish I could remember who said that or where I read that so I don’t get sued.  It’s a challenging time to say the least, but imagine working for the organization who figures out how to retain and engage legacy learning, create upward career paths and opportunity to create self-wealth, match wits with the today’s innovators while allowing for the social media expectations of the up-and-comers?  It would be awesome, wouldn’t it?  Kind of like sitting down for a big family dinner!  Wait a minute…. Hold that thought, memo, email, twitter….

 1 There are more generally accepted birth years associated with these workforce labels, I just can’t remember them!

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