Gen Zers are tech-savvy, but worry they lack needed soft skills and crave more human interaction; Even so, senior professionals fear displacement by digital natives
TORONTO, ON – Generation Z is entering the workforce, bringing with it a tech-first mentality that will propel businesses further into the digital era while potentially deepening the divide among five generations in the workplace. According to global research commissioned by Dell Technologies, post-millennials – those born after 1996 and known as Gen Z – have a deep, universal understanding of technology and its potential to transform how we work and live.
“While we have come to expect that these digital natives have advanced technology skills, the level of digital maturity they are bringing to the workplace is impressive,” said Kevin Connolly, President of Commercial Sales at Dell EMC Canada. “They recognize the importance of data security and are aware of the potential impact their online activity can have on their professional future.”
The survey of more than 12,000 high school and college students in 17 countries reveals the younger generation’s outlook on technology and future jobs. In Canada specifically, 718 individuals between the ages of 16-23 (Generation Z) who are currently attending school indicated the following:
- 98% have used technology as part of their formal education
- 46% say the technology offered by an employer would be a factor in choosing among similar job offers
- 70% want to work with cutting-edge technology; of those 42% aspire to work in research and development, 33% want to work in cybersecurity and 29% are interested in IT careers
- 76% believe technology and automation will create a more equitable work environment by preventing bias and discrimination
An overwhelming 76% recognize that we are entering the age of human-machine partnerships: 47% of those surveyed believe that humans and machines will work as integrated teams, while 40% see machines as tools for humans to use as needed.
Lack of experience, potential generational rifts
While most Gen Zers are confident with their technical prowess, they also worry about having the soft skills and experience that employers are seeking. Seventy-seven percent rate their technology literacy as good or excellent and 36% say they have above-average coding skills. Even more telling, 80% are willing to mentor an older coworker who may be less experienced with technology. Yet nearly all new grads (91%) have some concerns about future employment.
- Only 60% rate their education as good or excellent in preparing them for their careers
- 45% are confident they have the tech skills employers want but not necessarily the non-tech skills
At the same time, senior professionals are concerned they are being outpaced and that a majority of leadership roles in the future will be filled by digital natives. According to previous Dell Technologies research, 87% of business leaders fear that their organizations will struggle to offer equal opportunities across generations.
With up to five generations now in the workplace, businesses must help workers find common ground as they push to create a digital-first culture. Cross-functional teams with complementary skillsets can encourage knowledge exchange and a fresh approach to problem-solving. Internships, rotation programs and other early-career development opportunities can help young professionals gain experience and develop soft skills on the job. And reverse mentorship programs can enhance technical competencies throughout an organization, with Gen Z leading the way.
“At Draper, we thrive on cross-discipline collaboration. It’s not unusual for us to bring together military experts, rocket scientists and students from area universities to solve some of the world’s most complex challenges,” said Mike Crones, CIO at Draper. “In these scenarios, the student provides a unique perspective to solution development. Many of the technologies we work on are highly interactive and Gen Z brings a curious, user-first approach that we might not otherwise consider.”
The human element
Although they have interacted with electronic devices practically since birth and grew up with social media, Gen Z yearns for more human interaction in the workplace.
- In-person communication (44%) is the preferred method for communicating with coworkers, followed by phone (18%); messaging apps and texting ranked last
- 82% expect to learn on the job from coworkers or other people – not online
- 77% say that social media can be a valuable tool in the workplace
- Twenty-five percent prefer to go to a workplace versus working from home and the same percentage prefer to work as part of team rather than independently
For more information on Gen Z: The future has arrived, please visit DellTechnologies.com/GenZ