From education to employment

Generation Z in Transition: Adapting to the Realities of the Workforce

Sidharth Oberoi

The findings of a recent study by Multiverse have caused quite a stir in the media recently. According to the study, a staggering 70% of senior leaders believe that students starting their careers are not equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in today’s modern working environment. As the youngest generation in the workforce, Gen Z has grown up in a world vastly different from the one their parents and grandparents knew. Born into a digital age where technology is integral to daily life, this generation is known for being socially conscious, entrepreneurial, and tech-savvy, with a recent Dell Technologies study finding that 4 in 5 Gen Zs have the desire to work with innovative technologies such as AI. 

Gen Z is considered a unique cohort since they are the first to have been born and raised in a world with internet connectivity since day one. The need for a shift to being digitally literate has also changed which skills are needed to be successful in the workplace. 

As the workforce continues to evolve, Gen Z is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of work; however, they need more guidance and support in navigating this new world of work. With their innovative thinking, collaborative approach, and ability to adapt to new technologies, they are well-suited to thrive in an ever-changing job market; the question is what has changed and what do they need now? 

Learning and development – Gen Z style 

Graduates today encounter a job landscape that differs significantly from ten years ago. The concept of a virtual or remote workplace was non-existent, and even though Teams and Zoom were available, they were not necessarily utilised for team meetings or interacting with colleagues on a daily basis. 

This new way of working demonstrates that while jobs are becoming increasingly digitised, new workers are struggling with interpersonal skills that can only be attained through in-person collaboration. While Gen Z possesses innate digital skills that make them well-suited for the workforce, they require more support in navigating interpersonal relationships to succeed in the workplace, according to Salesforce’s research. 

With the link between a physical office and employee productivity becoming less defined, companies are adopting new technology to break free from the traditional single-location setup. A well-planned digital workplace strategy can help enterprises improve organisational communication and diversity of talent, leading to increased growth, productivity, innovation and a better overall staff experience.

A recent survey by Instructure, maker of Canvas, reveals that a significant percentage of respondents worldwide feel institutions need to adequately prepare students for the workforce. In the UK, 61% of respondents believe that measuring student success over the next year should factor in their preparedness for work and career. This trend aligns with the current economic climate, where students increasingly prioritise career readiness when investing in their education.

Employers and higher education institutions need to create a learning environment that encourages practical engagement and learning from real-life situations to support Gen Z and equip them with the skills necessary for success in the workplace. This approach provides ample learning opportunities for new workers to reflect, analyse, test, and experiment, extending beyond traditional methods. However, what is crucial to the success of a learning environment for Gen Z students and employees is implementing a virtual learning environment (VLE)  that can create, organise, and deliver learning activities while simultaneously tracking a student’s progress as a part of their learning record that extends throughout their academic and professional journey.

Companies should also explore other innovative learning and development initiatives such as digital hackathons, challenges, and skill marathons. These environments allow young learners or new employees to showcase creativity, foster teamwork, refine their technical skills, collaborate with peers, and understand what is needed to succeed in the workplace. 

The power of microcredentials on Gen Z in the modern workforce 

According to Instructure’s survey, more than half of participants believe that possessing a diverse range of skills will become increasingly important in the near future. Research from Digits revealed that 47.85% of respondents believe leadership skills are considered the most important soft skill, closely followed by verbal communication and teamwork skills. Whilst soft skills remain essential to employers, digital skills are becoming more vital with rapid technological advancement, with over a quarter of UK workers feeling they don’t have the required digital skills for their job. 

Given the influence of emerging technologies on the next generation and their career prospects, it’s crucial to provide students with opportunities to expand their knowledge in these fields. Data science, AI, virtual reality and machine learning skills have become fundamental in today’s world, especially for those part of Gen Z joining the workforce. Experts predict that by 2025, half of the global workforce will need to reskill due to the impact of digitalisation. To address this challenge, microcredentials offer an effective way to facilitate lifelong learning, offering focused skill-based learning opportunities and enabling learners and new employees to showcase their full portfolio of competencies beyond traditional degrees.

Demand for microcredentials has increased in the workplace, with both employers and learners alike recognising their significance and wanting them to play a more prominent role in professional environments. Topics such as business management, project management and engineering are amongst some of the most popular as they are particularly significant in bridging the skills gap in the UK. Ensuring accessibility to micro credentials for students part of Gen Z from all economic backgrounds will equip more learners with the necessary skills to thrive in the workforce.

Thriving in the shifting learning landscape

As Gen Z continues to grow and develop, they have the potential to make a significant impact on the world. Their commitment to positive change and creativity can be powerful catalysts for progress in a world that needs it. With their unique perspective and unwavering determination, they are poised to lead the way towards a brighter future for all. But transformative change can only take place if they have the tools and skills to succeed. It is incumbent on educational institutions to adapt to this change and the workforce to embrace it. Then, and only then, will progress can transformative change be achieved.

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