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New Dell Technologies Research Reveals Generation Z Expects A Digital Workplace But Still Values Human Interaction

November 23, 2018

Gen Z-ers in Asia Pacific & Japan recognise a future underpinned by technology and consider themselves digitally adept, but worry they lack the soft skills required

News Summary:

  • Study of more than 5,700 Generation Z students in Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) highlights their views on technology and the workplace
  • These ‘digital natives’ are reshaping the workforce: 85% in APJ (79% in Singapore) aspire to work with cutting-edge technology and close to half are interested in IT careers
  • Gen Z is tech-savvy but concerned about their workforce-readiness: 78% in APJ (84% in Singapore) are willing to be technology mentors to their colleagues, yet 96% in APJ (98% in Singapore) worry about having the right soft skills and experience

See also: Guide to Braving the New Workplace with Multi-Generational Workforce: Gen X, Y and Z.

SINGAPORE, 13 NOVEMBER, 2018. Generation Z (Gen Z) is entering the workforce, bringing with it a technology-first mentality that will propel businesses further into the digital era while potentially deepening the divide amongst five generations in the workplace. According to Gen Z: the future has arrived, a study commissioned by Dell Technologies, post-millennials – those born after 1996 and known as Gen Z – have a deep, universal understanding of technology and its potential to transform how we work and live.

“It’s almost a given that these digital natives have advanced technology and data science skills, but what is surprising is the level of digital maturity they are bringing to the workplace,” said Danny Cobb, corporate fellow and vice president of Technology Strategy, Dell Technologies. “Yet we haven’t raised a generation of robots. Gen Z sees technology not only as a tool for enabling human progress, but also as a means for leveling the information empowerment playing field. Their combination of vision and optimism is remarkable.”

The Survey of 5,772 high school and college students across nine countries in Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) – including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – reveals their outlook and expectations on technology, the workplace, and their future jobs.

According to the Study, in APJ:

  • 85% want to work with cutting-edge technology (79% in Singapore); of those, 40% are interested in IT careers (40% in Singapore) and 49% (40% in Singapore) aspire to be involved in technology research and development
  • 91% (89% in Singapore) say the technology offered by an employer would be a factor in choosing between similar job offers  
  • 82% (83% in Singapore) believe technology and automation will create a more equitable work environment by preventing bias and discrimination
  • 98% (99% in Singapore) have used technology as part of their formal education

Notably, an overwhelming 91% in APJ (92% in Singapore) recognise that we are entering the age of human-machine partnerships: 55% in APJ (60% in Singapore) believe that humans and machines will work as integrated teams, while 36% (32% in Singapore) see machines as tools for humans to use as needed.

 “The APJ region is poised to lead the world in innovation and human-machine partnerships, and Generation Z is set to be a powerful driving force in accelerating our progress,” said Amit Midha, President, APJ Commercial, Dell EMC. “These digital natives have a clear vision of an intelligent future where technology is ubiquitous: they are inherently ready to put technology at the heart of innovation, and this will empower businesses across the region to achieve new heights of transformation success.”

“When it comes to welcoming Generation Z to the workplace, organisations in APJ need to rise to the challenge of creating a digital-first environment – from the hiring process, to onboarding, to the daily work experience,” said David Webster, President, APJ Enterprise, Dell EMC. “Understanding the skills that this generation possesses can open up new opportunities for businesses – and especially if those skills can be successfully democratised across the workforce, narrowing the digital divide amongst employees and strengthening technological capabilities overall.”

Gen Z still values the human element

Although they have interacted with electronic devices practically since birth and grown up with social media, Gen Z-ers yearn for human interaction in the workplace.

According to the study, in APJ:

  • 74% (76% in Singapore) expect to learn on the job from coworkers or other people – not online
  • In-person communication is the preferred method for communicating with coworkers (42% in APJ) (50% in Singapore), compared to phone (25% in APJ and 11 % in Singapore) or messaging apps and texting (21% in APJ and 26% in Singapore)
  • 83% (86% in Singapore) say that social media can be a valuable tool in the workplace
  • More than half (51% in APJ) prefer to go to a workplace versus working from home, and 59% (51% in Singapore) prefer to work as part of team rather than independently. Interestingly, only 37% in Singapore prefer to go to a workplace versus working from home.

“Today’s young professionals grew up in a collaborative educational environment and they are bringing those same expectations to the workplace,” said Maribel Lopez, technology industry analyst and strategic advisor at Lopez Research. “Though face-to-face communication isn’t always possible in today’s modern workplace, immersive technologies are enabling all types of workers to collaborate in both the physical and virtual worlds.”

 Lack of experience, potential generational rifts

Having grown up as digital natives, most Gen Z-ers have confidence in their technical prowess. In APJ, 70% (65% in Singapore) rate their technology literacy as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ and 71% (53% in Singapore) say they have above-average coding skills. In addition, 78% (84% in Singapore) are willing to mentor a co-worker who may be less experienced with technology.

On the other hand, Gen Z-ers worry about having the soft skills and experience that employers are seeking. In APJ:

  • Nearly all new graduates (96% in APJ) (98% in Singapore) have some concerns about future employment, ranging from not having the right skills to lacking work experience
  • Just 55% (47% in Singapore) rate their education as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ in preparing them for their careers
  • 56% (47% in Singapore) are confident they have the tech skills that employers want, but not necessarily the non-tech skills

At the same time and by contrast, senior professionals are concerned they are being outpaced and that a majority of leadership roles in the future will be filled by digital natives. According to previous Dell Technologies research, 87% of global business leaders fear that their organisations will struggle to offer equal opportunities across generations.[1]

With up to five generations now in the workplace, businesses must help workers find common ground as they push to create a digital-first culture. Cross-functional teams with complementary skillsets can encourage knowledge-exchange and a fresh approach to problem-solving. Internships, rotation programmes and other early-career development opportunities can help young professionals gain experience and develop soft skills on the job. And, reverse mentorship programmes can enhance technical competencies throughout an organisation, with Gen Z leading the way.

Read also: Two-thirds of Generation Z in Malaysia Want to be Entrepreneurs

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