Generation Alpha

Just when you thought you had the measure of the Millennial generation, its successor comes barrelling down the demographic pipeline. Its name – Generation Alpha – originated in a 2008 survey conducted by the Australian consultants McCrindle Research. Researchers and popular media use the early 2010s as starting birth years and the mid-2020s as ending birth years. Named after the first letter in the Greek Generation Alpha is the first to be born entirely in the 21st century. Most members are the children of Millenials.

Since 2015 around two and a half million people have been born every week around the globe. Generation Alpha is expected to reach two billion by 2025. Africa is largely responsible for human population growth in the twenty-first century, and has overtaken Asia. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations, Washington, reports that the world’s youngest countries by median age are all in Africa.  At least 20 African nations today have a median age of 17 or less. While a booming population can induce substantial economic growth, if healthcare, education, and economic needs are not met, we will face chronic youth unemployment, low productivity, and likelihood of social unrest. So investing in human capital remains crucial. But what should we be investing in to unlock the potential of the Alpha Generation?

Alphas are already the most prolific ‘streamers’ – viewing content from all over the world all the time. News, entertainment, education, social content. No longer tied to traditional media, they will never have a daily routine that includes reading newspapers or pausing to watch news at specific times. The cars they drive will be autonomous. Their retail habits will be ‘just in time’. In fact their world may well become more virtual or ‘enhanced’ than real.

If managing Generation Z was all about Empowerment, leading Generation Alpha will be all about Inspiration. The Alpha workforce will never line up to be counted through the workplace door or corralled into departments. They’ll be looking to build diverse skill sets for themselves and then find employers who can ‘cope’ with a broader universe of talent.

Deloittes is one of many consultancy firms suggesting how the talent management model will need to change. They highlight three areas for focus:

• Access. How do you tap into capabilities across your enterprise and the broader ecosystem ( mobilising on- and off-balance sheet talent)?

• Curate. How do you provide employees and teams with the broadest and most meaningful personal development (that integrates into the flow of their careers and personal lives)?

• Engage. How do you interact with workforces, business teams and partners to build compelling relationships?