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
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:
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:
“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:
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.
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.