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From Boomers to Gen Alpha, Cyprus’ workplace transformation

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Beneath the surface of Cyprus’ workforce in 2023, beyond the stereotypes, complexities emerge among generations. Gen Z is labelled as overly sensitive, Millennials as cringe-worthy, Boomers as villains, and Gen X as often overlooked. Despite these stereotypes, questions remain about their accuracy.

The generation gap, signifying differences in beliefs, values, and behaviours between generations, holds profound implications for the workforce in Cyprus in 2023 and beyond. As the older generation approaches retirement and the younger generation enters the workforce, their differing perspectives may shape the future of employment in the country.

Linking to the broader European context, the European Year of Skills stands as a beacon for invigorating lifelong learning, aiming to address the skills gap faced by over three-quarters of EU companies. Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, underlines the significance of attracting skilled individuals to the EU. He emphasises, “Attracting people with the skills needed for the EU, including by facilitating the recognition of their qualifications, will be a key priority for the European Year of Skills.” Schinas highlights that the skills acquired in Europe can effectively transfer to other countries, reinforcing Europe’s role as a knowledge hub.

To achieve these goals, the European Commission proposes building upon existing initiatives such as the European Skills Agenda, the Pact for Skills, and the European Digital Skills and Jobs Platform. Leveraging the more than €99 billion budget of the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the Digital Europe Programme, Horizon Europe, and Erasmus+, these programmes provide crucial financial and technical support for up- and re-skilling. The primary aim is to foster a skilled and adaptable workforce capable of meeting the demands of evolving economic and technological landscapes.

Looking ahead to 2024, the implications of the generation gap become increasingly pronounced as the older generation approaches retirement, and the younger generation enters the workforce. Beyond

stereotypes, questions persist about the accuracy of these labels and the profound implications of differing perspectives among generations on the future of employment in Cyprus.

Understanding the historical context of generational differences adds depth to the discussion. The Lost Generation (1883-1900) endured the aftermath of World War I but tends to be overlooked in modern discussions. The Greatest Generation (1901-1924) weathered the Great Depression and fought in World War II, earning praise for its resilience. The Silent Generation (1925-1945), caught in 20th-century mayhem, is seen as more reserved and cautious. Baby boomers (1946 to 1964) are often portrayed as entitled and blamed for societal problems. As for Gen Xers (1965 to 1980) — well, who cares? It seems they are met with indifference!

Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are sometimes criticised for being lazy, self-absorbed, and slow to embark on their careers. Gen Zers (1997 to 2012) are described as overly focused on technology, emotionally delicate, and perceived as either excessively socially conscious or not enough (opinions vary on this matter).

Born into the digital age, Generation Z seamlessly integrates technology into their lives, with workplace flexibility and digital fluency as top priorities. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly shaped their entry into the workforce, emphasising adaptability to remote work and the importance of digital platforms.

According to Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, “Skills are essential if we are to do what we want with technology.” This underscores the indispensability of skills in navigating technology and positions the European Year of Skills as a catalyst for enabling continuous learning.

In a broader context, Gen Z’s impact extends beyond the workplace. The EY report on Gen Z’s influence on consumer dynamics emphasises their transformative power, with projections suggesting they will

comprise 25 per cent of the global workforce by 2026. This underscores the urgency for businesses to adapt to their unique preferences, positioning Gen Z as a transformative force in the global marketplace.

Generation X plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap between traditional and emerging workplace norms. In wealth management, Gen X’s agility and digital enablement become crucial for commercial success. Millennials contribute significantly to the evolving workforce, comprising 38 per cent of the global workforce and expected to rise to 58 per cent by 2030.

The survey unveils a profound shift in workplace power dynamics, with Liz Fealy from EY emphasising that over one-third of employees, primarily Millennials and Gen Z, are poised to quit their jobs within the next 12 months. The “Great Resignation” mirrors a disconnect between employee expectations and employer perceptions, emphasising the urgency for businesses to adapt.

“To achieve our Digital Decade and Green Deal goals, we want to support our companies, in particular SMEs, in hiring, training, and keeping talent,” states Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market. This anticipates a strengthened European skills offensive through the implementation of the European Year of Skills, aligning with the broader narrative of continuous learning and adaptation.

While the term “Generation Alpha” signifies a continuation of the generational alphabet, it also marks the beginning of a new era. Born from 2013 onwards, this generation faces a world transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Navigating challenges like increased screen time and rising concerns about obesity, Generation Alpha signifies not just a continuation of the generational alphabet but the beginning of a new era, highlighting the ongoing need for adaptation.

A crucial aspect of the generation gap is the difference in attitudes towards technology and its impact on work, extending to work values and career expectations. Younger generations often prioritise work-life balance, personal fulfilment, and purpose-driven careers. They value opportunities for growth, continuous

learning, and a positive work environment. In contrast, older generations may place more emphasis on stability, loyalty, and financial security in their careers.

To ensure a harmonious and productive workforce in the evolving work landscape, organisations need to promote intergenerational collaboration and knowledge sharing. Embracing digital transformation and adapting work policies to accommodate different work styles and preferences can help bridge the gap and foster a cohesive and productive workforce.

In Cyprus, a digital divide between generations exists, with the younger generation consistently being more tech-savvy. Efforts are being made to improve digital literacy and promote digital tools and training to overcome the generation gap in Cyprus. According to a report published by the Cyprus Statistical Service in June 2023, the digital divide between generations in Cyprus is expected to persist, highlighting the urgent need for action to bridge the gap.

Efforts to improve digital literacy and intergenerational collaboration are crucial in Cyprus. Initiatives like the digital webinar hosted by the Cyprus Computer Society in October 2023 aimed to promote digital literacy and skills among older citizens. However, challenges persist, as highlighted by a report from the Cyprus Statistical Service in June 2023, indicating that only 37.5 per cent of individuals aged 65 and above use the internet daily, compared to 98.7 per cent of those aged 16 to 24.

In conclusion, the generation gap in Cyprus is a real head-scratcher, especially when it comes to tech. The young generation is born with smartphones in hand, while the elders are still figuring out emojis. But guess what? We can sort this out by strengthening digital skills and getting everyone in on the action.

Now, on to stereotyping – it is like this force that won’t quit, whether you’re a fan or not. No matter how much we progress, some things just stick. It is like the more things change, the more they stay the same. So, as we tackle the tech gap, stereotyping adds this interesting layer, showing that some things are just here to stay, making the whole situation a bit more intriguing.

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