Research from CYPHER Learning highlights significant gaps in the education and training of Gen Z workers, raising concerns for businesses and policymakers ahead of the upcoming election.

The survey of 794 workers aged 18-34 at companies with over 500 employees reveals that 71% feel unprepared for the workplace by their school or university education.

The survey also indicates that a large portion of Gen Z employees believe there are numerous “unspoken rules” in the workplace, requiring guidance and training to navigate effectively. Key findings include:

  • 42% of respondents, increasing to 47% among 18-24-year-olds, report being told to improve without receiving adequate training.
  • 42% state they are not offered the necessary training to perform their roles effectively.
  • 45% feel that insufficient training is hindering their career progress.

The Impact on Employee Retention

The lack of effective learning and development (L&D) programmes is  also affecting employee retention, with 72% of young workers seeing room for improvement in workplace training. Additionally, 84% say the lack of professional development has led them to consider leaving their current job, with 44% actively exploring other options.

Graham Glass, Founder and CEO of CYPHER Learning, comments on the findings, saying, “Our future leaders must be empowered to succeed and thrive in the workplace. Yet, a chasm exists between the skills learnt in schools and those needed to succeed in the workplace. While developing soft skills in schools is being discussed, businesses need to bridge that gap in the meantime.”

Personalised Training as a Solution

The research suggests that personalised training programmes could better support Gen Z workers, with 88% of respondents indicating they would feel more encouraged and motivated if offered training tailored to their individual needs and career aspirations.

This personalised approach is particularly important given the diverse needs of the younger workforce. Almost a third (32%) of workers aged 18-34 self-identify as neurodivergent, with this figure rising to 38% among those under 24. Additionally, among these neurodivergent workers, 43% feel that the workplace learning they have received does not meet their needs.

Glass also highlights the potential of AI-enabled L&D to deliver personalised training at scale, saying, “The survey results point to the clear need for organisations to provide just-in-time, just-for-me learning to empower employees, particularly Gen Z workers. As the workforce changes and expectations rise, delivering personalised learning is a must. With AI-enabled L&D, personalisation at scale is achievable.”

Addressing the Skills Gap

As the upcoming election focuses on skills and education, these findings from CYPHER Learning underscore the urgent need for improved in-work training to help Gen Z succeed. The gap between academic education and workplace requirements is evident, and businesses must take proactive steps to address this disparity.

Investing in training and development not only supports the professional growth of young workers but also enhances overall productivity. Research shows that motivated and happy staff are 12% more productive, a crucial factor given the UK’s current position at the bottom of productivity league tables.

The Way Forward

To address these challenges, businesses should focus on developing comprehensive and personalised L&D programmes that cater to the diverse needs of their workforce. This includes providing soft skills training in areas such as leadership, collaboration, time management, and critical thinking.

Additionally, integrating AI-powered learning platforms can help deliver these training programmes effectively and at scale, ensuring that all employees receive the support they need to thrive in their roles.

As the election approaches, policymakers must consider these insights to create a more supportive and effective education and training framework that bridges the gap between academic learning and workplace demands, ultimately driving economic growth and employee satisfaction.