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Utilising Training and Development Opportunities to Attract Gen Z Talent

With Gen Z employees set to make up around 27% of the total global workforce by 2025, employers are under increasing pressure to meet the unique demands of this vital talent pool. Here, Rob Bright, CEO of Cloud Assess, discusses why training and development hold some of the answers to attracting and retaining young workers.

What makes this generation unique?

Gen Zs grew up in an entirely different landscape to those that went before them, so it stands to reason that their attitudes, values, and priorities will be different too. They are the first generation to have grown up in a fully digital age, many of them completed their studies during a global pandemic, and the majority have found themselves entering the workplace for the first time during a skills shortage.

With all this in mind, employers simply can’t expect to treat these individuals in exactly the same way as other generations and expect the same response. And, with this generation set to make up an ever-increasing proportion of the workforce as time goes on, it’s vital that employers work to meet these new needs and priorities, or risk falling behind in the fight for talent.

What are Gen Zs looking for in the workplace?

Cloud Assess’s own research demonstrates that young employees are the least motivated by salary of any generation. Instead, they place a firmer focus on opportunities to learn and progress. In fact, over a quarter of employees aged between 16-34 claim that training and development is the most crucial factor when it comes to their engagement as an employee.

When done well, this can have an incredibly strong impact on young people’s work ethic. Over two-thirds of 16-34 year-olds told us that training and development improves their commitment to their employer – the highest of any age group. Similarly, three-quarters of young workers agree that it boosts their job satisfaction.

There is a combination of factors influencing these unique priorities. We expect new talent entering the workplace to be eager to learn and progress, but this has been amplified for Gen Zs who missed out on years of vital in-person learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to a sense of a ‘generation gap’ in education and work experience which many ambitious young people are, understandably, keen to close as quickly as possible.

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How do Gen Zs want training to be delivered?

Clearly, training and development is an essential tool for engaging young talent, helping to boost both attraction and retention. Yet, our research shows that young employees are currently the least satisfied with the training provisions provided by their workplace, with 71% believing there is room for improvement. So, how do employers provide training that will genuinely resonate with this talent pool?

Our research shows that young people have very strong views on how they like training to be delivered. While the most popular training format amongst all age groups was face-to-face, Gen Zs were the clearest on this preference, despite their limited time in the workplace. Just 17% chose online training in isolation as their preferred training format – likely, in part, due to their high exposure to this method of learning during the pandemic.

How can employers ensure training is effective?

These preferences align with our understanding of what makes effective learning. Centuries-worth of scientific studies show that long-term learning is best achieved through real-life practice, rather than studying from a screen or book. For example, the National Training Laboratory’s ‘Learning Pyramid’ suggests that most students only remember about 10% of what they read from textbooks, but retain nearly 75% of the material that they practice by doing, demonstrating just how essential in-person training is.

Whilst offering face-to-face training for all employees can seem intimidating when resources are tight, there are solutions available to help streamline the process, such as training software which combines the benefits of both face-to-face and online learning. This type of technology allows employers to take a digital approach to the coaching, planning, training, measuring and assessment aspects of training, freeing up valuable time and resources which can be spent on delivering in-person coaching.

Final thoughts

Training and development opportunities is no longer considered a ‘nice to have’ by modern workers. It’s now an essential part of attracting and retaining top talent in this competitive skills market. Those employers that understand this and invest in truly effective workplace learning for their staff will not only be rewarded with an engaged, loyal, and skilled workforce, but will also successfully cultivate a culture of growth and development across the whole business.

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