SMEs in the 4th Industrial Revolution: Creative Tools to Attract Talents and Shape the Future of Work

SMEs in the 4th Industrial Revolution: Creative Tools to Attract Talents and Shape the Future of Work

Justine Walter (2b AHEAD ThinkTank, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9188-7.ch006
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Apart from the emergence of new technologies, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by demographic developments that will provoke fundamental changes in the labor markets of many industrialized countries. This situation will especially affect small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are based in rural regions with rapidly increasing numbers of retirees and an equally rapidly shrinking population of young people. If these companies want to maintain their levels of production in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, they will need to pursue new creative strategies for attracting the best talents. All of this is true for Saxony, a highly industrialized German region with a large percentage of SMEs that is hit hard by declining birth rates and high levels of emigration, and the East Asian society of Taiwan that faces similar challenges. At the same time, many well-educated members of the young generation in both regions feel disrespected, underpaid, and without prospects.
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In both regions, the majority of young professionals can be categorised as members of the Generation Y, or gen y. This term was first used in a 1993 article of the US American magazine Advertising Age (Dahlmanns, 2014) and relates to those born after 1980 and before the year 2000. Alternative expressions like “net generation”, “generation @”, or “digital natives” allude to this generation’s increased use of information technology that distinguishes them from their parents and grandparents, the “digital immigrants” who only learned to use the internet in their adult years.1 However, these terms only insufficiently differentiate the Generation Y from younger age cohorts that have likewise, or to an even greater extent, used modern information technology from an early age on (Rehm, 2014).

Not only the denominations, but also the definitions which authors give for this generation’s age span vary significantly: Swedish researcher Parment (2009) gives 1984 to1994 as their birth years, the German study by Ruthus (2014) uses the years from 1980 to 2000, Tulgan (2009), as quoted by Dahlmanns (2014), states they were born between 1978 and 1990, and Allihn (2013) sees them born within the period from 1980 to 1995.

Based on these authors, this paper defines the investigated demographic group as those born between 1980 and the early 1990s. This group is referred to as Gen Y for the German region of Saxony and as Strawberry Generation for Taiwan.

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