n a Sunday morning I left my comfort zone to attend TINCON
, the festival for digital youth culture. The conference is for youngsters between 13 and 21 years of age, but on the third day, it was open also to the older generation. And there I was: at Columbia Theater Berlin, surrounded by Generation Z reps. I soon got into a conversation with three youths sitting on the U21 advisory council. U21 stands for under 21 years. The issues they're concerned with are coding – also for girls – and LGBT. I asked them, "So why do you internet natives need a physical conference?" "In the internet, many users wear masks, and we can't show our real selves," is the answer I got – and I was astonished how mature their attitude was towards new media.
The scope of the 110 TINCON speakers ranged from Virtual Reality over hate in the internet all the way to identity. The program was interactive and the throwable microphone was busy. I heard the younger generations requesting that programming ought to be taught in schools, that the inflexible curriculum structures need to be replaced with learning by subject areas. Rubin Lind (19) later told the WELT newspaper: "The working world will change, we must now acquire skills that cannot be substituted by artificial intelligence." He's the founder of Skills4School, an e-learning platform and training app.
Something I've suspected for a while has become a certainty: we can and must learn from younger age groups, much more than any prior generation. A study conducted by Eurostat confirms that adolescents are much better digitally educated: while in Germany 37% of all those questioned claim to have advanced digital skills, that quota is at 61% in the 16-to-19-years age bracket.
In a few years millennials make up the majority of workforces. But is our industry ready and equipped for the 'war for talents' with 'New Work" concepts? Do we have strategies to attract attendees with interactive meeting formats? Who are they, these new staffers, members, customers and visitor to events? I think it's worth noting that the meetings industry has not been calling millennials to the podium. When thinking about industry meetings, the majority of events that come to my mind are those at which we talk about millennials, and not with them.
How do you deal with this issue at your conferences? We'd be delighted to report on your best-practice examples. I recommend readers such as Cebit spokesperson Hartwig von Saß, who's keen on meeting tomorrow's digital deciders, to have a look at the next TINCON.