How Online Learning Enhances the Career Growth of Gen Z employees
Generation Z: a demographic of “digital natives”, typically characterised for their social media trends and technological aptitude.
Following on from millennials (and unfamiliar with a world pre-internet), it’s thus no surprise that this same, tech-savvy generation comprise a large part of today’s online learning participants.
Not only does this heighten demand for a more innovative, convenient form of learning – the trend also offers direction for Learning and Development (L&D) professionals and how to meet the needs of Gen Z workers.
We explore our youngest generation’s desire for online learning opportunities, and how L&D experts can help bolster their options.
A growing thirst for online learning
While COVID-19 has undoubtedly caused significant disruption to the global job market, economy and business landscape; Gen Z workers have reportedly used this time to further build on their skills, flocking to online learning resources as a safe, convenient means of doing so.
In fact, LinkedIn statistics show that the group has “continued to learn at higher levels” over all other age groups, with 67% stating that they’d spent more time training in 2020 than the year prior.
The generation’s value for career progression, paired with their knack for all things digital – has led to ideal learning experiences through online training platforms.
Gen Z learners on the LinkedIn Learning platform have also grown by double and a half of 2019’s participants, with the group watching 50% more hours per learner in 2020. Additionally, those who found an online platform they liked often stayed to learn further skills.
Such desire for online learning seems to show no signs of stopping, as 69% of the demographic claims to be “carving out more time” to train further. At the same time, Australia’s online education field is set for continued growth, providing our Gen Z workers with plenty of future options to explore.
A focus on hard skills
Contrary to previous generations, Gen Z workers reportedly place greater weight on hard or technical skills, helping them train for more specialised roles in the job market.
Though soft skills such as communication, management, and leadership are all still critical for employment; Gen Z have also invested training in areas of productivity, business, and technology. As a primarily “digital” generation, this greater focus on tech can help expand their career opportunities, as demand for IT-related skills and experiences continues to rapidly grow.
According to LinkedIn Learning findings, the top courses taken by Gen Z in 2020 include those focused on programming, project management, data analytics, and online marketing. These skills not only broaden their career paths, but secure it for a future of advanced, automated technologies. Gen Z seems to be aware of this, with 59% of professionals expecting a significant change in employment or job trends in the years to come.
The sharper focus on hard, technical skills is also due to Gen Z’s greater pursuit of passionate interests. LinkedIn’s research shows that 73% of Gen Z workers surveyed reported the desire to explore topics they had a personal, rather than professional interest in.
Gen Z and career growth
Career growth and performance form a core element of Gen Z’s employment goals, with the group scoring higher than other generations on career-minded objectives.
According to LinkedIn’s survey, Gen Z is most likely to deem learning as a “key” part of career success; most likely to pursue training for internal promotions; and most likely to pursue training to expand their opportunities at their current company.
Online learning has thus shown to help build resilience, engagement, productivity and drive among Gen Z employees, providing an easily accessible, user-friendly resource to sharpen their professional skills.
Despite popular stereotypes of Gen Z workers being “entitled” and “lazy” (much akin to that of common Millennial myths), studies also show that most Gen Z employees are willing to build their careers “from the bottom”, with a surprising majority willing to work nights and weekends (while only a handful deeming work-life balance to be an important aspect of a job).
The Gen Z workforce is therefore a highly motivated, yet often misunderstood, career-focused group of professionals – willing to leverage current technologies to further their skills for the job market.
The benefits of digital training
On top of providing a convenient source for further training, online learning platforms also benefit Gen Z’s unique learning styles and familiarity with technology.
Being digital natives, the demographic can easily adapt to such avenues, helping them efficiently build their skills anywhere, and at a schedule that suits them best. Online learning is also often comprised of multimedia content – these including videos and other audio-visual material – making it an ideal experience for a generation used to “snack-sized”, easily-consumable digital content.
Gen Z employees are also known to be more active learners; with a desire to constantly challenge their skills and learn through practical means. Online learning platforms typically offer just this: the on-demand opportunity to upgrade their skills and pursue areas of interest, often through an independent learning experience that focuses on putting their newfound knowledge to practice.
Additionally, Gen Z learners are reportedly more interested in personalizing their training process, while absorbing information from a wide range of materials and resources – both prevalent benefits of pursuing digital training.
How you can help as an L&D professional
Those in the learning and development field can learn plenty from these findings, helping guide their future strategies in attracting, retaining, and boosting Gen Z talents.
With the generation’s value for career progression and their heavy preference for online learning resources, encouraging the use of such platforms is critical. Gen Z workers have already set their sights on technical business skills and “sectors of the future” (i.e. those in the IT industry); thus, boosting accessibility to the appropriate training platforms is crucial to further drive these goals.
Not only will you be helping them meet their career-focused needs; you’ll also help minimise the growing skills gaps in plenty of Australia’s rising technological fields.
As Gen Z workers prefer personalised learning experiences, ensure your training recommendations are also highly tailored to their goals and interests. Statistics have shown the demographic to value open communication and frequent interaction with colleagues; so taking the time to understand their personal passions can do well in helping you link them to ideal learning opportunities.
Finally, the generation places high value on collaborative, social learning. In a time of critical isolation (caused by the current pandemic) highlighting the available social tools on such platforms can also do well to encourage its use. Online group chats, forums, and video calls are just a few features typically provided through digital courses; enhancing one’s training experience and resulting in overall higher engagement.
Encourage online training among Gen Z workers today!
As a generation with a passion for skill-building and careers, encouraging the use of online learning platforms will not only help Gen Z workers reach their goals – but also that of the general workforce.
Help foster work-ready, passionate, digitally-savvy employees by highlighting their options for flexible, digital training. Upskilled, a leading RTO (registered training organisation) of nationally recognised training courses, offers a wide range of programs across Australia’s top industries – from sectors in community services to technical areas of IT.
Both Gen Z workers and older generations alike can find plenty of opportunities to bolster their skills or pursue new interests, all through a convenient, online learning experience.