Not much is known about the new, up and coming generation that the media have labelled Generation Z.
What we do know is that this is the cohort of people born after the now famous, free thinking millennial generation, but, what else do we know?
It’s hard to pinpoint the birth period of generation Z, but it is thought to be the late 1990s onwards, which means the first or second batch will soon be hitting the work-place and entering corporate L&D processes.
Is there really a need to single this generation Z out?
Will they just feed quietly into the existing organisational and L&D framework?
It seems that this generation needs special attention as they are unique in many ways in that they will be the first of the true digital natives to hit the work-place.
This generation has never known a world without the internet, social media, and downloadable music; they are true digital natives.
Generation Z will consume content and information, learn and interact with the world in a different way to the generations that have gone before them and learning and development professionals need to be aware of these trends if they are to engage effectively with them in the real or virtual classroom.
So what is it that sets generation Z apart from their forefathers?
According to this report by Sparks and Honey, Generation Z wants to change the world, e.g. 60% of them want to have an impact on the world compared to just 39% of millennials.
They are less interested in advanced degrees, with 64% considering an advanced degree, compared to 71% of millennials, but they are more entrepreneurial with 72% of them wanting to start a business, compared to 61% of millennials, (who were already thought to be the most entrepreneurial generation).
Being digital natives, they are unsurprisingly and unashamedly over-connected with the typical Generation Z representative multi-tasking across 5 screens daily and spending 41% of their time outside school on computers compared to 22% 10 years ago.
Of course, this quirky, always-on, independent, entrepreneurial generation will be hitting your corporate training rooms soon and you’ll need to adapt your style in order to engage with them.
The research from Sparks and Honey gave several recommendations on how to engage with this generation.
These included things like: talking to them in images/pictures/videos/symbols, and communicating with them more frequently in short bursts of “snackable” content, across multiple-screens.
This shows that generation Z will be big consumers of bite-size learning.
Since they love to change the world and love learning, community based, volunteering type L&D assignments with some kind of social cause at the heart of it may go down very well with this generation.
Try to ensure your learning programmes tap into their entrepreneurial spirit which means that, ‘The Apprentice style’, L&D programmes may go down very well with this generation too.
There is no question that generation Z will have markedly different expectations than the generations that came before them with regards to L&D, which is why it’s time for the training profession to start incorporating the needs of this generation into their training strategies.