"Are we doing any actual work or are you just going to type on your computer Mama?" Asked my 6-year old daughter Claudia as she waited for her next task in Essential Care / Odylique’s Suffolk office today for Take Your Daughter To Work Day.
It’s the Easter holidays and I had taken Claudia along to work with me for the afternoon to earn some pocket money, ease tension on sibling relations (her adorable 3 year-old little brother can be slightly patience-testing), and because she loves to help put labels on our products. (This is possibly partly due to the fact that a picture of Claudia aged 18 months adorns Essential Care for Baby packaging – a feature that I hope she still as pleased about in 10 years’ time…)
Her question (and rather dim view of me clattering away at the keyboard) made me wonder if, after the ‘compete technology’ generation Z, Claudia’s generation, Alpha, will mark an inflection point. Sick of a diet of computer programming from age 5 (if current government policy suggestions become reality) will generation Alpha consider ‘work’ to be the creation of something beautiful with your own hands, rather than something virtual, engendered by a computer.
These are the children who have grown up with an iPad since birth, who have swiped their fingers across magazines in the expectation that it will turn the page, and whose parents (yes guilty) are permanently glued to hand held devices. But will the complete reliance and immersion on screen technology for social purposes, communication, and virtual entertainment, cause a rebound, a craving for ‘real’ things, a generation of creative manufacturers?
Maybe that’s a pipe dream, a rosy view of the world, or one data point of a six-year old with more artistic than technological leanings, but hey wouldn’t it be nice if we had a generation of craftsmen and craftswomen who (against certain educational odds) contributed to a manufacturing revival. That’s not to say that technology and craft are mutually exclusive, quite the opposite, technology helps innovation, but hopefully the technology won’t crowd out the real-world creativity of this generation.
Claudia at least has a very good example in the family – a grandma (Margaret) who if she can’t find what she needs, makes it, and that’s how she started making natural skincare. And as our company has grown, in-house manufacturing has grown too rather than been outsourced to a mass-production factory, so that we can ensure our innovation and quality ‘craftsmanship’ remains in the formulations.
Claudia loves to watch her granny blending and pouring mixtures into bottles and jars, smelling her ‘lotions and potions’, trying them out. I wonder how closely Claudia, with the ultimate tech-upbringing of a generation Alpha, will follow in her footsteps.