Are Gen Z and employers on the same page when it comes to development?


Dive Brief:
Almost 80% of working Gen Zers said they think the skills needed in today’s workforce are different than those required in past generations. In the same vein, 91% of HR leaders said current, needed skills have changed, according to a new LinkedIn survey. The social media platform polled 400 HR professionals, including learning and development (L&D) experts, and 2000 Gen Z members, born between 1995 and 2010, to find out how employers were planning for the newest generation’s entry into the labor force and whether all parties were “on the same page.”
Survey results showed that 59% of Gen Z learners said they would learn professional skills to earn more money, but only 33% of L&D professionals said the same. More than 45% of Gen Zers said they would undergo training to get a promotion, while just 28% of L&D professionals thought a promotion would motivate this generation to learn. Most Gen Zers think hard skills are more important than soft skills, compared to L&D experts, who tend to believe soft skills are more important and that Gen Zers need soft-skills training and other types of instruction, including technical proficiency.
In preparing the workforce for Gen Z’s entry, 98% of L&D professionals agree that the youngest generation’s learning preferences will be different from previous generations’. Almost two-thirds plan to change their L&D program to accommodate Gen Z workers and 84% said they felt confident about knowing what Gen Z will need.

Dive Insight:
Workers and employers often bring different perspectives to the same issue, so it’s not surprising that Gen Z and L&D professionals have different expectations of the newest members of the workforce. Authors of a recent report from Kahoot, however, said that trainers will need to respond to these new workers in the tech-based milieu they’re comfortable with, which includes social media and smart phones. According to the report, Gen Z prefers learning online, through apps and on-the-job.

Gen Z’s work preferences can help trainers understand how they like to learn. According to Jim Link, CHRO of Randstad North America, the key characteristic of Gen Z is their global awareness, influenced in part by technology, and their propensity for working in real time. “When, how and where work gets done is going to be shifting dramatically over the course of the next years,” Link previously said at a conference, referring to the dawning of the Internet age and its revolutionizing of the sharing of content and data. “The use of the information in sustained ways will be how work gets done in the future. We’re calling that the ‘collaboration revolution,'” Link added.

Collaboration could be a challenge for Gen Z when it comes to applying soft skills. Teamwork requires focused communication between team members. Making the transition from sending swift, abbreviated electronic messages without details to friends and family members to sharing detailed, work-related information with colleagues could be a difficult transition for Gen Zers. LinkedIn even pointed to a Deloitte study in which organizational leaders expressed concern about Gen Z’s interpersonal communication skills. Employers will likely need to make soft-skills a training priority for this generation of workers.


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