- Members of Generation Z — those born from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s — are confident about their knowledge of technology but don't feel as prepared to enter the workforce, according to a recent Dell Technologies survey.
- Students surveyed said they want to work with cutting-edge technology and be mentors, according to Dell. A majority (75%) said they expect to learn on the job from co-workers or others instead of online. About half want opportunities to learn new skills and have new experiences at work.
- The report, based on surveys with of 12,000 secondary and postsecondary students across 17 countries, guided employers to respond to these desires and workplace readiness concerns by offering soft skills training, internship opportunities and other on-the-job programs.
As the Dell Survey indicates, members of Generation Z want more in-person communication and seek personalized experiences online and in the workplace. Those desires extend into the college classroom as well. As a result, institutions are incorporating social media among their outreach and retention tactics, adding wellness initiatives and implementing more job-specific courses.
Employers are also creating pathways into relevant fields by working with colleges to incorporate credentials and other training into postsecondary curriculum. One popular example is Google's IT certification, which is available at more than two dozen colleges. Amazon Web Services is offering its own certification through community colleges, and Apple and Facebook have contributed curriculum to institutions as well.
Colleges, too, are fielding employer demands for hard and soft skills through add-ons like digital badges that show competencies in areas like oral communication, critical thinking and collaboration.
Yet there is more work needed to connect what students learn in college with what employers ask of them. Just one-third each of business leaders (33%) and hiring managers (39%) in an August report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) said recent college graduates are "very well prepared" to apply knowledge and skills gained in college to real-world settings. As a result, they said, those students struggle to rise in the ranks at work.
"I've talked to a lot of employers who say students come in eager, they're prepared, they can tackle the job head-on, but then after six months they want to be promoted or the work becomes tiresome," AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella told Education Dive. "Those dispositions are things we can help engender in students — to be in there for the long haul, to accept challenges, to understand the complexity of organizations and what it takes to advance to the next level."
She recommends colleges vet internship placements to ensure they are robust, and that employers "take seriously the responsibility of having an intern."