Members of Gen Z are entering the workforce with certain types of technological know-how, from navigating the depths of the internet and using apps to editing photos on their smartphones.
But when it comes to using a scanner or printer — or even a file system on a computer — things become a lot more challenging to a generation that has spent much of their lives online, The Guardian reports, a counterintuitive result of workplaces still relying on technologies that were around long before they were born.
"There is a myth that kids were born into an information age, and that this all comes intuitively to them," Sarah Dexter, an associate professor of education at the University of Virginia, told the newspaper. "But that is not realistic. How would they know how to scan something if they’ve never been taught how to do it?"
For instance, 25-year-old New Yorker Garrett Bemiller admitted to The Guardian that he was stumped by a photocopy machine at his office.
"It kept coming out as a blank page, and took me a couple times to realize that I had to place the paper upside-down in the machine for it to work," he said.
Educators have already found that the latest generation of students is struggling with wrapping their minds around the concept of file folders and directories. Even astrophysics students had a hard time with the concept, as The Verge reported back in 2021.
After all, why dig around for a while when you can just use your computer's search functions? A quick Google search can easily get you to the answer you are looking for in a fraction of a second.
It's become such a commonplace discussion these days that tech company HP went as far as to give the phenomenon a name: "tech shame."
HP found that young people are ten times more likely to feel "tech shame" as compared to older colleagues, according to a November survey, the result of a basic misjudgment.
"The assumption is that because Gen Z and even millennials spend a considerable amount of time on technology that they are technology savvy," Debbie Irish, HP's head of UK and Ireland human resources, told WorkLife last year. "This is a huge misconception. Sadly, neither watching TikTok videos nor playing Minecraft fulfills the technology brief."
There's plenty of evidence that Gen Zers don't feel adequately prepared for office life. Last year, a LaSalle Network survey found recent graduates simply didn't possess the technical skills to successfully enter the workforce.
Then there's social media, which has set a high bar for accessibility.
"It takes five seconds to learn how to use TikTok," content creator Max Simon, who makes TikTok videos about corporate life, told The Guardian. "You don’t need an instruction book, like you would with a printer."
"Content is so easy to access now that when you throw someone a simple curveball they’ll swing and they miss," he added, "and that’s why Gen Z can’t schedule a meeting."
But for tech-savvy Gen Zers, the situation is quite different. They're still far more adaptable than their older colleagues and will frequently be tapped for help themselves.
That kind of trial and error and Google-assisted problem-solving has long gone over the heads of the older generations, which will only deepen the divide.
Besides, why are we still using scanners and printers in the year 2023? Perhaps employers should finally get with the times and say goodbye to that ancient tech.
READ MORE: ‘Scanners are complicated’: why Gen Z faces workplace ‘tech shame’ [The Guardian]
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