Born after 1996, our newest generation is on the workforce horizon: Generation Z. Also called GenZ, iGen, and the Cloud Generation, these post-millennial teens were the first to conduct childhood friendships on portable devices. They’ve mastered the art of achieving an entire conversation with an image (emojis). Independent, pragmatic, stubborn and always in a rush, Generation Z will bring a new challenge to corporate professional development. That’s if they arrive as workers on the corporate scene at all. Most reports say over 75 percent of GenZ wants to start their own company and not work for others. How will they want to be trained?
Members of our up and coming workforce, whose oldest are about 20 right now, are the ultimate “self-educators”. They simply learn how to do things via YouTube videos. Want to know how to fire someone? Want to understand the differences between management and leadership? Need to change your tire? YouTube is their go-to source.
This group takes in information almost instantaneously and are experts at multitasking in a way prior generations are not. After all, they are our first 5-screen generation (smartphone, laptop, desktop, tablet, TV). They are streamers, not cable watchers.
How does this translate? Training for them will likely be on-demand. They are thrifty having grown up the product of Generation X parents in the shadow of the Great Recession, so training programs will have to be economical. They barely use email, so other means of communication will have to be utilized.
While we don’t yet know what is on the horizon with these newcomers to the workforce, one thing is for sure. Corporate training is not going to look like it used to back in the trade school days. Let’s hope we can all keep up with Generation Z.
Dr. Lesa Hanlin is Associate Director of Virginia Tech Hampton Roads Centers in Newport News and Virginia Beach, Virginia. She earned a B.A. in Biology Education from Marshall University, an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction and a Doctorate in Educational Administration both from The George Washington University. In her spare time, she is a runner and executive director of a charity she founded, Gowns for Hounds. She resides in Yorktown, VA.