Gen Z Has Different L&D Expectations than Prior Generations

Jan 23, 2019
| The Extensis Team
Gen Z learning and development expectations

Among the many challenges employers face today is the fact that the modern workforce is more generationally diverse than ever before. Baby boomers, Gen X, and Millennials are perhaps the most well-known, but another generation will soon have a major impact on employers – Generation Z (Gen Z).

This group is made up of individuals born between 1995 and 2010 (roughly) and in total makes up a larger number than even Millennials.

As Gen Z starts to enter the workforce in greater numbers, employers will have to adjust in order to recruit and retain this younger generation. And one-way to do this is through learning and development.

LinkedIn Study Shows Gen Z Wants to Learn at Work

In early 2018, LinkedIn conducted a study of both learning and HR professionals, and Gen Z’ers. 400 HR and L&D professionals at companies of all sizes took a survey around how they are planning for a successful year of learning. Over 2,000 individuals who are a part of Gen Z took their own survey. Here are a few of the results.

Both groups believe that the skills necessary at work at changing at a rapid pace. 76% of Gen Z believe the skills needed today are different from those needed in previous generations. 91% of HR and L&D leaders agree as well.

It’s important for employers to understand why Gen Z views learning and development as a necessity in their careers to help with recruiting and retention. The LinkedIn survey revealed the top 3 reasons Gen Z wants to learn new skills:
  • Improve at their job – 62%
  • Make more money – 59%
  • Get promoted – 46%

The data shows Generation Z believes that learning and development is critically important in advancing their careers and will look for employers that offer these types of programs.

There is some disconnect between how Gen Z and HR/L&D professionals think on this matter. Just 28% of professionals believe a promotion would be a motivating factor for Gen Z to learn new skills.

How Does Gen Z Want to Learn?

Gen Z’s views on learning and development are much different from previous generations, and this stems from the fact that they have grown up with the internet and technology.

This means that employers will have to add to and/or shift their L&D strategies to meet the expectations of this incredibly digitally-savvy generation.

The LinkedIn study showed that Gen Z wants to learn on their own time and at their own pace. 58% said they want to learn a new skill but don’t have the time to do so. Additionally, 43% said they prefer a “self-directed and independent approach to learning.”

However, the study showed that only 20% of employers plan to offer Gen Z the kind of L&D experience they are seeking. This could make recruiting, and ultimately retaining, Gen Z more difficult than previous generations.

Another interesting finding from the survey is that 62% of Gen Z believe hard skills are changing rapidly and are more important than soft skills. This is another area where Gen Z and HR/L&D professionals differ.

61% of L&D leaders believe Gen Z will need added support for learning soft skills and 41% think Gen Z will need to develop technical proficiency.

Employers Are Altering Their Strategies for Generation Z

The last area of the survey shows that HR and L&D professionals are planning for Gen Z in the workplace. 98% say that Gen Z’s learning expectations will be different from other generations. This means altering L&D programs to meet the demands of this young generation, and that’s exactly what 74% of professionals plan to do.

Lastly, 84% said they feel confident that they know how to prepare for Gen Z and what these employees will need to be successful in the workplace. Only time will tell if this is true!

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