As Generation Z – aka “Generation AI” – enters the job market, they are confronted with a rapidly changing landscape defined by technological advancements and global shifts. Currently aged between 18 and 25, this generation will be expected to master a skill set that goes way beyond traditional academic or technical knowledge. Their ability to adapt and thrive in this increasingly complex and ever-changing world depends on their mastery of both technology and key soft skills. Versatility will play a pivotal role in shaping success in a workplace characterized by continuous evolution within an ever more complex global landscape.

For employers and HR professionals, it’s essential to identify and develop the key competencies – both technical and human – that Generation AI needs to succeed. This article unpacks these critical skills and discusses how employers can effectively harness the new stream of talent for a mutually rewarding relationship in the currently evolving workplace.

Table Of Contents

Digital Literacy and Technological Proficiency

In today’s technology-driven workplace, digital proficiency has gone from nice-to-have to musthave. Young professionals entering the workforce are facing a transformed landscape where traditional paradigms are giving way to new structures that more aptly suit the current era. Hybrid models and digital platforms have revolutionized international collaboration. This dynamic workplace environment facilitates continuous on-the-job learning and personal growth, as employees are regularly exposed to new and diverse ideas, skills, and cultures. The incorporation of generative AI skills adds an additional layer of complexity to this evolving environment. The combination of such significant shifts requires a commitment to lifelong learning and the continual acquisition of evolving skill sets.

Dealing with Uncertainty

Flexible and digital-based working models, while offering numerous opportunities for growth and learning, also presents unique challenges. Among these is a noticeable increase in career-related anxiety among young professionals, particularly those from Generation AI.

John Morgan, of Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH), part of The Adecco Group opines: “Gen Z are starting their careers at a really tough time where there is a lack of overall personal connections and relationships because many of them are either not in the office, or else they are in but in a very semi regular way.”

The heightened levels of career-related anxiety observed in this age group stem not only from the rapidly changing skill sets, but also from the fact that this generation has joined the workforce during a period in which meaningful support is lacking.

LHH recently carried out a survey called the “Career Readiness Index” which encompasses 2,000 employees across different age groups in the U.S., U.K., and France; it revealed that 35% of Generation AI respondents felt they lacked control over their careers. Additionally, another 35% said that they were unable to effectively employ their existing skills in their current roles. Clearly employers must do more to support, develop, and harness the talent these young professionals have to offer.

Generation AI and the Skills Gap

The label Generation AI may, in fact, be unfair and misleading. Although they are digital natives, employees from this age group do not inherently possess the skills needed to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools at work. While their digital proficiency does, at least in theory, allow them to adapt more swiftly than previous generations, unlocking AI’s full potential and becoming experts in its utilization requires time, guidance, and practice.

Generation AI are, by nature, more open to exploring and using generative AI in the workplace, with many having prior experience of such technologies in an academic setting. This helps them to bridge knowledge gaps that stem from the reduced in-person interactions associated with today’s digital workplace. However, a skills gap still exists. As per a recent report by Adecco, 70% of the 30,000 workers surveyed across 23 countries already utilize generative AI at work, yet less than half of them receive proper training or guidance. In another report (“Work Re-imagined” by Ernst & Young, 2023) it was revealed that only 38% of employers currently utilize AI, with a mere 18% providing training to their workforce.

It is clear, therefore, that to avoid the misuse of generative AI, employers must establish clear guidelines and provide adequate training in order that their employees become responsible human co-pilots of AI.

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