A new survey released by LinkedIn shows a disconnect between what types of skills the youngest workers think are important to succeed in the workplace, and how employers view those skills.
In its new “Generational Learning” survey, LinkedIn Learning on Tuesday said it found that 62 percent of Generation Z — defined as individuals born between 1995 and 2010 — believe “hard,” including technical, skills are changing faster than ever and are more important than “soft,” such as communication and teamwork, skills. However, company learning and human resource professionals surveyed believed that soft skills were more important, and 61 percent think Gen Z workers will need extra support to develop those soft skills to navigate work.
Both groups “agree that tech skills are changing rapidly,” Tanya Staples, LinkedIn vice president of learning content, told GeekWire. “The disconnect happens when you look at both groups’ opinions on whether Gen Z has the soft skills that they need to succeed in today’s world of work.”
Staples said it’s not surprising that members of Gen Z — the oldest of which are in their early 20s and just starting careers — think tech skills are “far more important.” They’ve “grown up with profound change and are more familiar with how fast technology is evolving and changing the way we work and live,” she said.
LinkedIn commissioned the survey of 400 learning and HR professionals at small, medium and large U.S. companies, and also surveyed more than 2,000 participants who are members of Gen Z, in order to better understand their learning and career needs. Gen Z was preceded by Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers in demographic waves.
Other disconnects? Gen Z members surveyed say making more money would motivate them to learn new professional skills (59 percent), but only a third of business learning leaders (33 percent) felt that was the case. In addition, 46 percent of Gen Z said they’d learn more to get a promotion, but only 28 percent of employers thought a promotion would be a motivator for Gen Z members to learn.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the LinkedIn Learning survey showed a good percentage of Gen Z (43 percent) would prefer a fully self-directed and independent approach to learning skills. A smaller percentage (20 percent) of employers said they planned to offer Gen Z learners that level of self-direction.
But where employers do seem to realize change is coming is in the 98 percent who agree that Gen Z learning preferences will differ from previous generations.
Microsoft-owned LinkedIn, which acquired Lynda.com in 2015, has taken several steps to increase its professional learning options. In November, it announced it would be integrating educational content from third-party companies such as Harvard Business Publishing and CreativeLive into its learning platform in 2019.