As the upcoming election spotlights skills and education, recent research from CYPHER Learning underscores a pressing need for enhanced in-work training to help Generation Z thrive in the workplace.

A survey conducted by CYPHER Learning, a global leader in AI-powered modern learning platforms, involved 794 workers aged 18-34 employed at companies with over 500 staff.

The findings are stark: 71 percent of respondents reported that their schooling, from high school through university, did not adequately prepare them for the professional world. Additionally, the same percentage felt that numerous unspoken workplace rules left them needing further guidance and training.

The survey suggests that an increased focus on soft skills such as leadership, collaboration, time management, and critical thinking could better equip young workers for their roles.

However, many participants noted a significant gap in available training:

  • 42 percent (rising to 47% among 18–24-year-olds) said they were told to improve without being given adequate training.
  • 42 percent felt they were not offered the necessary training to perform their roles effectively.
  • 45 percent believed their career progression was hindered by insufficient company training.

This deficiency in workplace learning and development (L&D) programs not only hampers young workers’ growth but also impacts employee retention. A substantial 72 percent of respondents saw room for improvement in workplace training, and 84 percent admitted that inadequate professional development had made them consider leaving their jobs. 44 percent were actively exploring other opportunities.

“Our future leaders must be empowered to succeed and thrive in the workplace,” remarked Graham Glass, Founder and CEO of CYPHER Learning. “Yet a chasm exists between the skills learned in schools and those needed to succeed in the workplace. While the topic of developing soft skills in schools is being discussed, it will take time to change the curriculum and set education on the right path. In the meantime, businesses need to bridge that gap. Research shows that motivated and happy staff are 12 percent more productive, so investing in staff makes business sense – and given the UK is currently at the bottom of the productivity league tables, the need to increase productivity is an urgent problem.”

Personalised training

The survey also indicated that personalised training could better support newer workforce entrants. Nearly 88 percent of respondents aged 18–34 said they would be “encouraged and motivated” by training programs tailored to their individual needs and career aspirations. This demand aligns with the diverse needs of the younger workforce, where almost a third (32%) identify as neurodivergent, a figure rising to 38 percent among those under 24. Among these neurodivergent workers, 43 percent felt that their received workplace learning did not meet their needs.

“The survey results point to the clear need for organisations to provide just-in-time, just-for-me learning to empower employees, and in particular Gen Z workers, with the skills they need to develop their careers,” Glass continued. “As the shape of the workforce changes, and expectations of employees rise, delivering personalised learning is a must. And importantly, it is achievable. Organisations no longer need to be shackled by time and money constraints. With a new generation of AI-enabled L&D, personalisation at scale can be a reality.”

 

 

 

 

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Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.