As millennials catch up to baby boomers in the 2021 Census, businesses must prepare for the changing of the guard


Australia’s millennial generation has caught up to baby boomers in terms of population, suggesting business leaders must rapidly adapt their goals and practices to succeed in the coming decades.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) unveiled the first round of data from the 2021 Census on Tuesday, outlining the major demographic shifts taking place in Australian society.

One headline statistic from the data is Australia’s age breakdown: in 2021, both millennials, classified as those aged 25-39, and baby boomers, those aged 55-74, made up 21.5% of the population.

The findings show the share of millennials grew from 20.4% in 2021, while the proportion of baby boomers decreased from 25.4% over the same time period.

Far from the early 2010s-era stereotype of millennials as lazy and entitled, many in the cohort are now entering the middle of their working lives.

Businesses ought to adapt with those demographic realities and meet the needs of the millennial cohort, if they have not already, says Jeanette Cheah, founder and CEO of entrepreneurial training firm HEX.

“We’re a much more flexible generation than our boomer parents,” she told SmartCompany. “We understand we can take our capabilities across jobs and across careers, and we don’t have to just kind of follow one pathway.”

That idea of flexibility extends to parenthood, as many millennials are now having children of their own.

Businesses ought to consider policies beyond what may have been available to prior generations, Cheah says.

Where prior generations may have separated their personal beliefs from their work, rising generations are also more likely to reflect their values through their vocation.

“I really think that there’s a balance: ‘What am I doing with my with my brain, you know, in my head, but what am I doing with my heart? And how am I touching the people around me?'” Cheah said.

“So I personally believe that we need to look at ‘What’s our contribution and obligations to society that we live in, and to the economy that we that we live in?'”

While millennials are now in the thick of their careers, the Census also revealed gen Z are hot on their heels. Gen Z, those aged between 10 and 24, made up 18% of the population in 2021, the data shows.

It is now on millennials to obtain the training they need to keep up with the jobs of the future, Cheah says.

Millennials are “in that job changing and upskilling part of their career, and they need to be looking at what capabilities, mindset and tools they need to be successful in the future, not just, ‘What job title am I going to have?'”

Further Census data will be revealed in the weeks and months to come.


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