Helping Gen Z Upskill in the Digital Era

September 11, 2023 – Born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s, Gen Z individuals are often portrayed as tech-savvy digital natives who effortlessly navigate the intricacies of technology. There is a growing understanding, however, that this assumption is far from accurate, as many Gen Z workers face challenges when it comes to applying their technological skills effectively in the workplace, says executive search firm Protis Global in a new report.

“One common misconception surrounding the Gen Z workforce is that they possess an innate understanding of technology,” said Protis Global. “Growing up surrounded by smartphones, social media, and various digital devices, it’s easy to assume they are inherently tech-savvy. However, being familiar with social media platforms and personal devices does not necessarily translate into competence with the complex technologies and tools used in professional settings.”

While Gen Z individuals may excel in navigating consumer-oriented technologies, they often lack exposure to the full range of software and systems used in the workplace. Many educational institutions fail to adequately prepare students to navigate the intricacies of professional applications, databases, project management tools, or other industry-specific software. “In a recent study conducted by Dell Technologies, more than a third of the study participants felt that their school education did not prepare them with the technology skills needed for their planned careers,” said Protis Global. “As a result, when entering the workforce, they may find themselves struggling to adapt to the technology stack required for their roles.”

A Significant Gap  

To effectively utilize workplace technology, Gen Z workers require comprehensive training and guidance. Due to the assumption of their inherent tech-savviness, organizations often overlook the need for structured training programs. “This oversight leads to a significant gap between what Gen Z employees know from their personal technology use and what they need to know to perform their job responsibilities effectively,” said the report.

It’s also important to recognize that not all Gen Z individuals possess the same level of technological proficiency. “While some may be quick learners and adaptable, others may require additional support and mentorship to bridge the gap between their existing knowledge and the requirements of the workplace,” said Protis Global.

Another factor contributing to the perception of Gen Z’s limited technological competence in the workplace is their preference for social technologies over professional tools. “Social media platforms and messaging apps are deeply ingrained in their lives, making them highly proficient in communication and collaboration within these environments,” said the report. “However, this expertise does not necessarily extend to the software and systems used for project management, data analysis, or other job-specific tasks.”

Related: How Fear of a Recession Impacts Talent Strategy

To address the growing knowledge gap of Gen Z workers struggling with workplace technology, organizations can implement several upskilling strategies. “First, organizations can invest in comprehensive training programs that go beyond basic onboarding,” said Protis Global. “These programs should be specifically designed to equip Gen Z workers with the necessary skills and knowledge to leverage workplace technologies effectively.”

Creating a Culture

Mentorship and cross-generational collaboration is another effective strategy. Pairing Gen Z workers with experienced team members can provide valuable guidance and support, said the new report. Cross-generational collaboration allows for the exchange of skills and knowledge, fostering a learning environment that benefits all involved.

Hiring brands can create a culture that encourages Gen Z employees to explore and experiment with new technologies. “Encouraging experimentation and innovation can be done through hackathons, innovation labs, or dedicated time for personal projects,” said Protis Global. “Encouraging a growth mindset empowers Gen Z workers to enhance their technological skills and contribute to the organization’s digital transformation.”

Lastly, hiring brands can foster continuous learning by implementing ongoing professional development programs, such as online courses, workshops, and certifications, to help Gen Z workers stay updated with the latest advancements in technology. “Providing access to learning platforms and resources allows them to expand their skill sets and stay relevant in the ever-changing tech landscape,” said the study

Protis Global, founded in 1995, is headquartered in Delray Beach, FL. Its specialties include consumer package goods, global food and beverage, cannabis, hospitality, fast moving consumer goods, adult beverage, talent attraction, and employer branding.

Related: A Look at Leadership in Today’s Workforce and What Trends Lie Ahead

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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