Generation Alpha, Gen A, The COVID Generation: Whatever you call them, and only time will tell, a new cohort of kids have arrived and already their distinct personality traits are forming. By sheer necessity to survive a pandemic, they’re proving themselves resilient, independent, passionate and—when it comes to traditional work done the old-fashioned way—outspoken and defiant.
But to understand the up-and-coming Gen A, I’ll call any kid born after 2010 here, you have to first understand the millennials that raised them. They waited later than ever before to settle down and were twice as likely to have an only child, whom they dote on in every way. (A Pew Research study found half of millennial parents report doing a “very good job as a parent” while a full six of 10 parents of Alphas found parenting “rewarding all of the time.”) As such, Gen A—nearly 2 billion of them across the globe by 2025—are what Forbes described as the “most materially endowed” with the shortest attention spans to date.
That said, Gen A has many wonderful traits that are sure to transform the workplace of the future. “This generation of talent has very high expectations,” explains Jason Kipps, managing director of Universum, the global leader in employer branding who recently surveyed more than 25,000 Canadian graduating students about what exactly they’re looking for—and insisting on—in careers across 60 different markets and industries. “Students want job security, high future income, lots of flexibility and to work for an ethical company that treats their employees well,” says Kipps. If they’re entitled, he adds, it’s a good thing. “I don’t begrudge them for any of this—I think it’s what we all want.”
Schools in 2021 and beyond have adapted accordingly to prepare the emerging Gen A to be deserving of all the success they crave. “It’s critical that we teach students resiliency, adaptability, and the importance of soft skills,” says James McKinnon of St. Michael’s College School. Students at St. Michael’s, like Gen A in general, care deeply and passionately about equality, justice, sustainability, diversity and inclusion—in Canada and beyond. “We teach students to act with kindness, decency, empathy and a commitment to better their communities,” says McKinnon.
In the same moment that requires perfected interpersonal human skills, Gen A will be more tech-savvy than parents can even imagine. “Technology and social media were already ubiquitous to this generation,” explains McKinnon, “but we’ll see new and interesting innovations from this group that will bring technology to the service of humanity.” With equal parts technical-savvy and emotional intelligence, it’s no wonder Gen A is already a force to be reckoned with.