I have been touting that we need to reach Millennials and Gen Z if we want a vibrant workforce in construction right now. Those who are already in the workforce can help fill in the gaps we are missing. As I have said, we need to show them what is possible and inspire them to do something innovative with technology. If we do, the rewards will be big for all involved—the individual workers and the company. That is the urgent need facing our workforce today—but we also need to be prepared for what is coming next.
What is coming next is Gen Alpha, who are individuals currently aged 0-9 years old. A recent report, A Brand’s Guide to Gen Alpha, from Morning Consult surveyed 2,000 of their parents, asking them questions about their children’s screen time, brand preferences and purchasing influence, financial future, healthy habits, and travel plans. Here is what it found.
Parents say these children are better off than previous generations in every aspect except one—mental health. This means parents see positive attributes when it comes to physical health, communication and socialization, happiness, ability to be financially successful, education and schooling, creativity and innovation, and developing skills for the workforce. If this is, in fact, true then our construction industry may potentially have a bevy of new workers in a decade.
Perhaps this next point comes without surprise. This is a generation that is very digital—more than half even at a young age already own a tablet device. Around 11% own a VR (virtual reality) headset themselves and 26% live in a household that has one, which could be a good signal for those with long-term metaverse strategies. While Alphas spend most time with smartphones, desktop computers, and VR, tablet ownership is the highest and VR headsets and desktop computer earn the most screen time.
Still, the survey suggests most Alphas spend less than two hours online, but age 10 marks a turning point where that time ticks upward. What’s more, of those who own VR headsets, roughly 17% of children use them more than seven hours a day and 18% said the same for desktop computers. These are children whose early education was marked by nearly two years of lockdowns and online learning. All in all, virtual streaming tends to keep kids busy, but video games are poised to take over as Alphas age.
Interestingly, there might still be some pushback from parents. About 28% of Gen Alpha parents support their children’s engagement in the metaverse at their current age, while 58% oppose it. Gen Alpha parents are also more likely than not to say the metaverse is not trustworthy or safe—36% consider the metaverse to be safe, while 44% don’t.
Looking ahead, nearly 3 in 5 Gen Alpha parents support their children engaging in the metaverse when they’re older, potentially rooted in the promise they see. Most (67%) say the metaverse is innovative, encourages socialization (52%), and is the future of the internet (58%).
This young savvy generation will change the construction industry in two ways. First, when they start coming into the workforce in roughly 10 years, they will bring with them a greater technical savvy than we have ever seen before. Construction had better be prepared for this new cohort of workers. Second, they will come to expect even greater connectivity in every walk of life—from shopping, to socializing, to buying their new home. Technology is certainly changing the generations, and construction has an opportunity, if the industry is willing to tap into it in a very unique and creative way. Are you ready? It’s time to get creative!
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