Even Younger Employees Come In With a Skills Gap

Many of us on the more senior side of life might be excused in thinking that these young folks come out of college and into the workplace with all the tech skills they need to jump right in. They are called “digital natives” for a reason, correct?

They have lived their whole lives with the internet and computers and grew up with a mobile device practically attached to their hands. What tech aren’t they comfortable with?

It turns out there may be quite a lot they aren’t familiar with. Adam Garry, from Dell, explains in this interview:

Gen Z has a tech skills gap at work. Here’s why

He says there are two gaps, first with schools. Curriculum design can’t keep pace because schools were not designed properly for that work. As Adam points out:

Schools are now grappling with how to shift from an assessment model to a performance-based system, as well as how to teach digital literacy.

I agree with this. Tech-native kids might be able to create TikToks and use their mobile devices to communicate and create in a million different ways. Still, we haven’t taught them how to navigate disinformation and critically analyze the information they are consuming to identify biases, etc.

This creates that first gap. The digital skills young people do have are not the same skills that will help them succeed in the workplace. The workplace that was designed and used technology the way the people in charge, almost always older, want it to be used. That’s gap number two.

The second gap is employers. If you think about it, employers are behind, too. We focus on providing cool furniture and office spaces, but we aren’t as creative about how to use technology as we could be. Few of us are creating video-based social media tools, even though 86% of the web is video. Workspaces have been created by older generations, while Gen Z is on their phones using TikTok and Instagram.

I agree, but with a caveat. One of the things I have talked about for years regarding college education is that, by its nature, it will always be behind. Think about it. You start a four-year degree program to learn technology skills. By the time you complete the four years and maybe even an advanced degree, everything you’ve learned is outdated. Technology changes that quickly. You enter a workplace using the next versions of everything you know. A version you don’t know much about because it’s so new that college programs haven’t even started incorporating it yet.

And by “so new,” I’m saying it’s been updated within the last few years.

When you hire people right out of college, you will still need to train them on the current technology. So don’t skimp on Training and Development, even if your employees are digital natives. There will always be a need to keep them up to date.


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