Gen Z at Work: Training New-Collar Workers for the Future

  • August 22, 2022
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The future of the hybrid work style is rapidly becoming the new normal, providing numerous opportunities for young professionals. In this transformed workforce, blue-collar workers are taking advantage of the high demand for open roles stereotypically considered white-collar. A "new-collar" generation of young professionals are taking accountability to upskill and self-train to break into the workforce, blurring the line between white-collar and blue-collar industries.

Fresh in the workforce with little-to-no work experience, young professionals are eager to accept guidance and direction. Companies seeking to stay ahead of the talent market should focus on developing this new-collar group of young professionals by leveraging the upskilling mindset as a competitive advantage.

What does this mean for the future of the workforce? Employers must obtain, train, and retain.

Obtain: screen in the new-collar

The current job market is pushing recruiters to remove requirement limitations for applicants and adopt a '’screening in’' approach. As a result, opportunities for entry broaden the applicant pool and reveals an underestimated talent market in the new-collar.

This approach places a higher value on soft skills while relying on internal training and development investments to enhance technical and industry skills. As a result, employers often undervalue a quality candidates' ability to learn quickly and deliver efficiently, leading to a missed opportunity to leverage talent early.

No master’s degree? No problem. Bachelor’s degree from an unknown university? Still a degree. Thanks to the human nature of personal recruitment rather than an automatic filter, a college degree from a small town is arbitrary when producing high-quality value to clients.

Train: upskill to meet demand

Training and mentorship build experience and subject matter expertise, increasing the quality and market value of output for new-collar young professionals. In today’s market, on-the-job training and readiness are expectations of young professionals taking on new roles.

Young professionals are eager to learn, open to acquiring expertise, and welcome the guiding parameters of current workforce demands. Rather than seeking outside expertise, internal upskilling allows companies to drive direction and pace while focusing on current market needs.

Although technical skills are critical to job success, young professionals also value mental health and equality as essential elements of the job. Therefore, alongside job-specific training, young professionals consider tools to enhance soft skills and interpersonal education as positive and attractive attributes. In addition, encouraging self-starting interest groups and less-formal interactions between different leadership levels creates a space for individuals to upskill soft skills on their terms.

Retain: apply the newer deal

Retainment is a long-term, enterprise-wide commitment that shapes company culture and passively builds itself from within. As new generations fill the workforce, the "new deal" retainment strategy emphasizes the three Cs: culture, care, and connectedness. These attributes are critical for young professionals to find the right company to build their careers.

Successful retainment calls for an agile mindset since trends and motivators are fluid as generations flow through the workplace. Additionally, retainment is essential to company culture; if a professional chooses to leave a company to pursue personal interests or growth, the three Cs may not be enough. However, the same professional may function as an advocate and promote the employer to peers and maintain a relationship that may one day lead to new business or talent.

Skill to fill the talent gap

Companies seeking to meet the demand for open roles should adopt a screening-in approach to find talent that may be hidden in the new-collar by upskilling young professionals. Then, mitigate doubts and risk by building a solid foundation of training and retention strategies that foster growth and autonomy.

Young professionals that belong to the new-collar are proving their value through training and development to upskill and meet the talent demand many companies are looking to fill. A company should embrace an adaptable mindset around obtaining, training, and retaining talent.

The rapidly changing workforce underscores the need for human-centric, digital-forward solutions for organizations in all industries. Our Workforce Readiness Consulting practice helps drive organizational success with future-focused talent and change strategies. Learn more about how we help our clients thrive on the human side of the business.

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Ally Mitchell

Ally Mitchell is a Project Consultant for NTT DATA Services with experience in the Financial Services industry. She graduated from Wichita State University and studied Business Marketing and Communications. She resides in Wichita, Kansas, and is a member of the NTT DATA Young Professionals organization, which gives employees with less than five years of experience a forum to share experiences, overcome challenges, and discover consulting best practices while building a more robust network. Through storytelling and upskilling, she aspires to drive successful change and implementation for financial institutions seeking to improve the customer experience. In addition, Ally has a passion for minimalistic communication and design approaches and teaching other young professionals how to articulate their stories.

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