Gen Y workers more comfortable with technology, have greater expectations for its use

Generation Y workers, more astute in their technology skills than any prior age group, are forcing employers to re-evaluate how they hire, train, and equip current and future workforces, according to a research study, Generational Research on Technology and its Impact in the Workplace, released by CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the information technology (IT) industry.

"In the next five to ten years Gen Y will completely dominate the workforce the way that Baby Boomers once did," says Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO, CompTIA.

"Generation Y has been raised in technology and they consider their aptitude for tech as a value that they bring to the table when seeking a job."

Two-thirds of Gen Y survey respondents assessed their own technology skills as "cutting edge" or "upper tier."

Similarly, Gen Y's expectations for tech in the workplace are quite high.

"An employer's tech 'savvy-ness' is very high on their checklist on whether to take a job or not," Thibodeaux notes

Roughly half of survey respondents described their employer as either "cutting edge" or in the "upper tier" in their use of technology, while slightly less (42%) put their companies somewhere in the middle of the adoption curve.

Three-quarters of Gen Y workers used a smart phone for work purposes in the last year compared with 37% of Baby Boomers. Other devices more prevalent among younger workers include tablets, laptops, and GPS systems.

Social Media

Another example is the use of social media. Gen Y considers social media a work tool, while Baby Boomers see it as more of a personal tool.

"Factors like these may require employers to adapt to Gen Y's expectations," Thibodeaux observes.

Adapting to a younger workforce will likely extend into the areas of training and professional development. E-learning is especially appealing to Gen Y workers, who tend to want to be autonomous in how they choose to interact with technology, deciding their own pace and not being forced to interrupt normal workflow for training.

This hands-on attitude also impacts technical support in the workplace.

"They often will try to troubleshoot the problem first on their own and want to brainstorm together with the IT staff," Thibodeaux says of Gen Y workers. "That's different than older workers, who want to hand off problem and get it back when it's finished."