How Gen Z Learns Workplace Skills

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With 43% of executives and managers seeing a skills gap problem, addressing this issue is a high priority for your business. Markets and businesses can be disrupted in an instant (as seen by the recent ChatGPT developments), so your business needs to have qualified hires that can quickly adapt to new technologies and processes, or else risk your organization's stability and sustainability. 

But how exactly can you go about addressing those issues? Although internships are one of the best solutions to recruit skilled workers into your talent pipeline, you need to implement thoughtful training programs to make sure the process is actually successful. The average training cost for a single employee is $1,252, and when multiplied many times over for your new hires, this cost can quickly add up.

Because it takes time and money, you need to be as effective and efficient in your training practices as possible. Just as how the hiring process is changing to attract Gen Z candidates, the workplace training practices of businesses will also need to do the same.

Understanding the Gen Z Worker

The Gen Z workforce arrives with some glaring issues. For one, universities are not preparing them enough for the fast-paced changes of the workplace largely due to academia providing outdated information. Universities also aren’t emphasizing workforce experiences such as internships that can expose students to office norms. Due to this gap between real-world business tech and what colleges teach, Gen Z comes into the workforce possibly needing more training than other generations. 

To their credit, Gen Zers are aware of their weaknesses. 7 out of 10 Gen Z candidates say workplace learning opportunities are among their top priorities when looking for a new job. Therefore, rethinking your businesses’ training and development programs for Gen Z is doubly important. Not only can you address the skills gap issue, you can also ensure that your business attracts the best upcoming talents without any additional hiring costs. 

So how can you alter your business’s existing practices to better train Gen Z employees? Gen Z learns differently than previous generations so it becomes imperative to construct a training regime based on their strengths.

How Does Gen Z Learn?

Before you can address the skills gap problem, you need to understand how Gen Z learns. After all, the focus on workplace training is to address the concerns of Gen Z, who feel their education hasn’t prepared them for the workplace. If the primary demographic can’t understand your training, then your time and resources will go to waste. 

Upskilling Through Technology

Gen Z is more connected than previous generations. From smartphones to social media, the multi-connected digital landscape has influenced how they retain information. Instead of searching in libraries or even online databases, they get instant educational gratification through TikTok or YouTube. If the proper information is given, Gen Z will not only pick up a new skill quickly but also understand the complexities of more advanced tasks. 

The independence they have gained through witnessing and experiencing pioneering technologies in many industries, from TikTok to Canva, also makes their learning style much more self-paced. They would rather get their hands on a new product and tinker with it on their own to understand it inside and out. 

Emerging platforms like Cousera and Duolingo are clear markings of this educational independence. Gen Z will take the initiative to work on their weaknesses, especially when it comes to learning what makes them most hirable for their career path. In fact, that’s why Gen Zers are coming to PathMatch to upskill themselves to make them more attractive to businesses in general.

Collaborative Learning

Rather than a lecture, Gen Z prefers collaborative, social learning. They appreciate an easy-to-access space to talk to fellow learners or an experienced expert. Gen Z is overloaded with information from all angles, so it can be harder for them to retain and remember some of the skills they are learning. Hands-on projects, also known as active learning, have already been proven to increase retention and improvement rates. Educational consultants have noticed a large contribution of project based learning in the last 10-15 years in classroom educational practices.

So in order to reach Gen Z, you need to structure your training programs in the way they learn.  Gen Z expects blended learning strategies that leverage digital media to improve learning, such as on-demand videos. Rather than reading a report, they want to listen and see the information, which ultimately means Gen Z training programs should leverage tools and mediums that encourage active listening and collaborative participation. 

It’s also key to make the entire process accessible and convenient. 62% of Gen Zers want to access and complete training from their smartphones. Usually, workplace training may entail a manager going through a presentation for a new batch of employees or demonstrating various job tasks in-person, but moving the demonstration platform to video can both save costs and attract Gen Z. It’s clear that if you aren’t prepared to use video, you won’t be able to hire Gen Z, and the same goes for training purposes. 

How to Create an Effective Training Program 

The best (and least expensive) way to address Gen Z’s preference for online learning and independent discovery is to restructure your business’ existing training practices. Consider recording a presentation that would normally be long and in-person, and split it up into shorter videos. The success of TikTok shows that Gen Z prefers short form content, so restructure your presentation methodology in this way. The bite-sized presentations will also allow employees to easily review chosen sections whenever they need it. 

Consider investing in a video sharing platform where you can post videos as well as include interactive activities and documents. By establishing a strong base, the training process can be streamlined across multiple applicants, lowering training costs. All a business would need to do is send a link to the platform and applicants can go through the training on their own.  

It’s also important to make sure Gen Z employees feel encouraged to expand on their skills during their time at your company. We’ve already gone over that Gen Z wants a collaborative environment, so implement a partnership-based culture in your organization. 

Even simple, informal collaborative meetings such as letting new employees have a “coffee chat” with higher leadership or letting them interact with various teams, will help them feel more welcome at your organization. Also consider pairing up a new employee with someone who is not their primary manager, similar to an informal mentorship. They will feel more comfortable asking questions to someone who isn’t tasked with overseeing their productivity, allowing them to pick up training faster in a more relaxed work relationship.

Workplace training is a key aspect of onboarding a new employee, but as Gen Z encompasses a greater part of the workforce, it's clear that businesses will need to change their training strategies, or risk losing out on valuable talent. 

It’s not easy building a Gen Z-friendly position that attracts the top applicants. PathMatch can help connect you to applicants who have the skills your business is looking for. Learn more here.

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