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What the company can do to help

Despite their status as the first digital-native generation, less than a third of Gen Zers believe they are equipped for the digital jobs of tomorrow.

Additionally, less than a quarter of Gen Zers believe they have the advanced digital workplace skills needed to succeed in the business areas they consider most important, including collaborative technology, digital administration and cybersecurity.

These were part of the results of Salesforce’s Global Digital Skills Index, which collected information from more than 23,000 workers in 19 countries.

While most respondents (83%) said they could claim “advanced” or “intermediate” skills for technology applications such as social media or common digital communication skills, this confidence drops sharply when knowledge is translated onto work place.

Kris Lande, senior vice president of the Trailblazer ecosystem at Salesforce, explains that companies need skilled digital talent, but the upcoming workforce doesn’t feel ready to operate in this world and ‘she doesn’t feel equipped to learn or know where to start.

“While the digital skills gap has been a long-standing trend, the search for skilled talent has been exacerbated by the accelerated pace of business innovation, particularly around digital transformation – a fundamental overhaul of the labor market. “, she says.

She adds that what stood out to her the most was discovering that nearly 68% of Gen Zers feel they lack the resources to learn the digital skills needed to thrive in the digital workplace. ‘today.

“Companies need employees who can automate processes, engage customers online, build e-commerce platforms, use AI, develop chatbots that deliver efficient service and to leverage technology to get workers back to the office safely,” she says. “They need digitally savvy, digitally trained employees to help them.”

The company must prioritize and invest in the training of the workforce

To help Gen Z get the right skills for these in-demand roles, Lande says employers need to prioritize and invest in workforce training and make it open and accessible to everyone.

“The days of in-person training seminars lasting several hours are over,” she says. “Learning and skill building is no longer a one-time event or moment – it’s lifelong and continuous to keep pace with innovation.”

From his point of view, companies should seek to offer attractive programs that offer personalized and on-demand learning opportunities. By doing so, learners can continuously improve their skills and retrain throughout their careers.

She adds that the technology industry has created a multitude of new jobs for which higher education institutions do not have a specific program.

With a growing digital skills gap and a growing number of Gen Zers feeling unprepared for the future of work, companies should seek to engage with education partners to prepare students for the jobs they need.

Josh Drew, regional director of IT recruiter Robert Half, adds that Gen Z’s familiarity with online education and virtual learning – being heavily driven by conditions surrounding the pandemic – could also prove beneficial at the venue. of work.

“The tools and technologies used in the classroom are light years away from what we saw just a decade ago,” he says. “These students are learning and engaging in virtual environments, not physically in the room with each other or with their professors. This is a good representation of the reality of the workforce now.

Define a common rubric for the necessary skills

Seth Robinson, Senior Director of Technology Analytics at CompTIA, says the hard work is defining many of these skills and understanding which skills are most important for certain positions.

“Once you define the skill, many organizations can do something internally to train their own workforce,” he says. “The problem we’re talking about is widespread, and we need a common language that would span many different organizations.”

An additional challenge is that many companies feel skills gaps much more acute than they have felt in the past, and they need to figure out how to address them.

“Companies recognize that the overall technical equation of supply and demand is a bit out of balance,” says Robinson. “They see that they seriously need to be able to quantify the skills they have, define the gaps and come up with a plan for how they are going to fill those gaps, either by hiring new staff or by training the existing staff.”

Robinson explains that CompTIA is working with organizations to try to develop a common taxonomy that goes beyond just generic categories like “artificial intelligence” or “data analytics” and explores the skills required to power these technologies.

“We’ve been providing certifications around digital skills for a long time and now we’re adding training trying to expand our portfolio of digital skills that we’re talking about, and what kinds of offerings we might have for individuals or businesses to participate in,” he says.

Generation Z is more willing to learn than previous generations

While only a third of Gen Z feel equipped with the digital skills needed to thrive in the future of work, the study also indicated that they are eager to learn, with the greatest ambition to develop new skills. of any generation.

Salesforce research shows that one-third of incoming Gen Z workers, with or without a degree, are “very actively” engaged in learning and training to learn essential digital skills.

Lande says this provides employers with a potentially untapped pool of talent eager to forge new career paths untouched by other generations.

She notes that historically it’s been difficult to get a corporate job without a four-year college degree, but today’s job market has proven that it’s no longer a necessity to land a high-paying tech job.

She pointed to Salesforce employee Zac Otero, who didn’t graduate from high school or attend college and was working in a meat processing plant when he discovered that the plant was closed.

Using Trailhead, a learning platform for the Salesforce platform, he learned the skills needed to land his first full-time Salesforce admin position.

“Those who want to learn new skills can succeed in this digital world, regardless of their educational background,” says Lande.

Drew says he has seen organizations – both public and private – sponsor and promote certain initiatives within higher education spaces to help steer students towards a particular industry in which the company ultimately specializes, a tactic often used in education. computer security industry.

“Look at DARPA – they basically circulate and fund some of the brightest minds in the university,” he says. “It’s probably a military application, but students don’t see it that way.”

Drew emphasizes that recent graduates and those just entering the workforce need to be proactive in asking potential employers about their development and training plan once they’re in the company.

“If it’s an entry-level position and they’re looking for things the candidate isn’t exposed to, it’s fair to ask what the plan is to get them up to speed,” he says. . “My personal view is that they are probably better prepared than they think.”

A silver lining in Gen-Z’s familiarity with technology

Robinson says he thinks Gen Z is starting from a solid foundation based on their day-to-day interactions with technology.

“They understand how systems work, and I think that knowledge helps them start to understand how business systems work,” he says. “I think the willingness to learn is a really critical part of that.”

He says Gen Z understands — to a much greater degree than previous generations — that they need transferable skills to succeed in today’s economy.

“They will naturally embrace this notion of being able to build a portfolio of skills that could be applied to a number of different situations, as opposed to sticking to one job in one location and building your expertise that way,” says- he.

These are among the sensibilities that Robinson says are in favor of Gen-Z moving forward, though he admits there’s a long way to go.

“Honestly, I don’t know if we’ll have this fixed by the time the next generation enters the workforce,” he says. “But hopefully we’ve made decent progress.”

What to read next:

InformationWeek Salary Survey: What IT Professionals Earn

IT recruitment: how to tap GenZ talent

Developing leadership skills for the virtual workplace

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