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Shove over Gen Y: Gen Z is almost here

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1 Shove over Gen Y: Gen Z is almost here
Gita Pupedis Assoc. Prof. Chris Bellman School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences, RMIT University In recent years, the surveying and spatial science industry has grappled with the issue of attracting more qualified staff into the industry. One aspect of the problem is declining numbers of students studying tertiary programs in these disciplines. Many initiatives have resulted from the recognition of this problem, some based on comprehensive market analysis and others on instinct and experience. The marketing gurus made it clear that Generation Y was the target and the message needed to resonate with them. But the game has changed and the gurus now tell us that Gen Y is moving on and Gen Z (digital natives; net generation) is soon to take over. In this presentation, I will present views from the perspective and perception of students who have recently chosen to enrol in a program in spatial science or surveying and I will compare the views of this years first year students with the final year students.

2 Introduction Gen Y Gen Z Skills crisis and student recruitment
Are there differences between the generations? Do we need to change our marketing messages? Demographers tell us we are just about to experience a change in demographic entering the workforce. Gen Y are those born between the years 1980 and 1994 Gen Z born from 1995 on. RMIT University

3 Skills Shortage Labour demand Industry growth
Existing skills shortage of 3000 to 4000 (ACIL Tasman 2008) Similar figures from Workforce Plan (SEAC 2007) And from a Queensland study (Lyons & Davies, 2011) Industry growth Estimated at % per annum (ACIL Tasman 2008) This creates further demand for labour Universities graduate about 400 to 500 students a year Demographic consulting group (used by the CRC-SI) How many spatial professionals are there? Allen Consulting Group 2010 Australia 51,000 (FTE) New Zealand 13,400 Caine report 2007 (based on 2001 census) Tier 1 about 31000 Tier 2 about 61000 Numbers are difficult to measure However, industry survey by Bruce Douglas (2010) shows vacancy rate at 6%?? i.e. no skills crisis!! Though his definition of skills is probably very narrow compared to ours RMIT University

4 Careers Promotion Surveying Taskforce Destination Spatial
University marketing campaigns Industry has really seen the need and responded with conviction. School Visits by members of the professions School Visits by universities Student outreach programs Science experience days Careers days and Expos University Open Days Websites Calendar RMIT University

5 Complicating factor 1 Mathematics
In students in Victoria studied Further Maths, 53% were female. In students in Victoria studied Maths Methods, 44% were female. In students in Victoria studied Specialist Maths, 37% were female. And you can clearly see why geography is not a pre-requisite, as only 2381 students studied it in 2010, 55% male. RMIT University

6 Complicating factor 2 Not enough Veronikas
In 2010, nearly 56% of students successfully completing the VCE were females. This is in no way reflected in the number of girls entering our courses. Veronika was the winner of the 2010 women in spatial scholarship (and a former graduate of ours). Unfortunately, numbers of girls studying surveying and geospatial science at RMIT peaked in 1993 (when we had an active women in surveying scholarship) and they have been low ever since. Some years we are lucky to have 2 or 3 girls, some years none. RMIT University

7 Complicating Factor 3? Generational change
Demographers say: Gen Y Socially connected/influenced by friends Like things to be fun! Not “try-hards” Want life enhancing experiences Gravitate towards group activity! Not our students! RMIT University

8 Complicating Factor 3? Generational change
Demographers say: Gen Z The first true A.D. generation The “click” generation Perpetually connected “Acquired attention deficit disorder” What does generational change mean? Don’t talk about careers, talk about life choices (careers are too constraining) AD after digital Technology solutions are trial and error (keep clicking till it works) They carry their technology around with them and are often perpetually hooked up, often doing multiple tasks at the same time (Mueller, 2010). McAneny (2010), states that this dependence on technology and need for instant gratification has a darker side, termed by some mental health experts as “acquired attention deficit disorder”. As people are so accustomed to a constant stream of digital stimulation, they feel bored when it is absent. Old speak – attention span of a gnat!! RMIT University

9 Student perceptions survey 2011
30 final year students (Gen Y) 21 first year students (approaching Gen Z) Eight students participated in follow up focus groups The overwhelming observation was the similarity between the responses from the two groups, however, there were some important differences. No Gen Zs yet, used the closest thing to it, 1st years real Gen Z (so we are currently marketing to Gen Z) RMIT University

10 Work experience before commencing study
76% of first year students had undertaken work experience before commencing study 40% of final year students had done so. In both groups, this experience was primarily surveying related Talk about the week long work experience. RMIT University

11 First awareness of program of study
Year 1 Year 4 VTAC Guide 6 Careers advisor/teacher 9 Parents 4 I knew someone in the program 2 RMIT website 3 Friends Career/study expo School careers night RMIT Open Day The most significant difference is the apparent decline of the influence of careers advisors/teachers. During the focus group discussions, it became evident that careers advisors were a very positive influence when they understood what Spatial Science was about. One student pointed out that their careers advisor had been to a Geospatial Science seminar at RMIT and had been very articulate about how the program would suit them. The vast majority of students had sought assistance from advisors, but had not found them useful, with comments such as: “Mine was not much help” “I don’t know what she got paid for!” This indicates that a raised awareness of our industry by careers advisors is a critical factor. RMIT University

12 Influences when selecting program of study
Year 1 Year 4 Influence 1 2 3 Family 9 6 Career or employment prospects 4 Work experience Careers advisor/teacher RMIT Open Day Career/study expo Members of the profession Course brochure Family and career prospects were the major influence for both year levels, with members of the profession and careers advisors ranking in the top six influences for both, but you can see that the careers advisors had a much bigger influence over the final years than the first years. RMIT University

13 Most frequently visited websites
Year 1 Year 4 Google 86% Facebook 77% 71% 60% Youtube 43% RMIT 53% 38% Hotmail 27% 33% 10% (students were asked to list the three websites they visit most frequently) Interestingly, there is a smaller percentage of younger students using Facebook frequently than older students and there is a large increase in the use of Youtube by younger students. RMIT University

14 Should GS use Facebook or other social media?
Year1 Year 4 Yes, you should 62% Yes you should 57% No, you shouldn’t 14% 33% No response 24% No response 10% Some people felt quite strongly in the focus group; No. It kinda blackens the image. It’s not professional. It could be good for past students to keep in touch. It could be used for keeping people up to date about stuff, but NOT for marketing. Many of the first year students pointed out that an unofficial Geospatial Facebook page already exists. Final year students thought it could be useful for promoting seminars, careers expos and for advertising job opportunities, but not for marketing. RMIT University

15 Use of industry websites and other promotional activities
Year 1 Year 4 “A life without limits” website 57% 20% “A life without limits” DVD 29% 7% Surveying Taskforce at career events 10% Surveying Taskforce industry presentation at school - 3% Destination Spatial website Geospatial Revolution project (Penn State University) None of these 38% 63% These figures reflect increasing penetration of both the “A life without limits” website and contact with potential students through careers events. RMIT University

16 Discussion Students are suspicious of generational labels.
Students are cynical about marketing. Social media is not as dominant an influence as we had expected. Students suggested that industry should use short, sharp, entertaining videos (Youtube). Perceptions of the industry’s lack of prestige were raised. Work experience and school visits by industry, students and academics are considered important by many students. Social media is also not the dominant influence that we thought it might be. While many students use social media, they do not see this as part of their professional or academic life and have little desire to have formal social media sites available. They would prefer an informal approach, with social media sites emerging and disappearing as their individual needs change The main information source identified by both groups of students (15 across both years) was Youtube. Students suggested the industry should make greater use of short, sharp, entertaining videos (e.g. YouTube). This is an increasingly popular source of both entertainment and information. Marketing campaigns designed around “viral” strategies seem to fit well with the idea of being influenced by peers You should compare the career to other high profile careers (such as dentists/doctors) and highlight the advantages. You should show people in our field using cool technology like laser scanning, GIS, GPS, thermal scanning. A 90 second clip of a year in the life of a surveyor (with lots of shots of the different types of work they do), or a clip about how essential surveyors are (without them, no roads get built, no tunnels get dug etc). Perceptions of the prestige of the industry were also raised. Students felt that along with the low awareness of the industry, prior to entering the program, there was little evidence of prestigious and successful careers. None of the students understood the diversity of career paths available and in some cases, claimed this was the greatest surprise that they encountered. Again, they pointed to video presentations as a good method of conveying this message. RMIT University

17 Conclusion Our marketing message and methods need to adapt to the changing requirements of the target audience. Clever use of technology is essential, but this space is already crowded and attention spans are short! New approaches need to sit alongside more traditional methods. Multi-pronged strategies appear essential. A continuing and concerted effort is required if we wish the message about careers and opportunities in the Spatial Sciences to be heard. The marketplace for recruiting students into tertiary programs continues to evolve RMIT University

18 And that was it, there is no more!!
RMIT University


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