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Nearly Half of Graduates Feel Unprepared for the Workforce, While Life Experience Is Ranked More Useful Than a Degree
[November 08, 2023]

Nearly Half of Graduates Feel Unprepared for the Workforce, While Life Experience Is Ranked More Useful Than a Degree


Over two in five (46%) employees believe that university failed to prepare them for their current jobs, with a quarter (25%) saying higher education best prepared them for their role.

The new research from the world's learning content expert, Go1, surveyed over 3,000 employees across the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia on their attitudes to learning in the workforce. The research explored the perspectives of different generations in the workforce - Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z - and the challenges and opportunities when training multi-generational teams.

"The widening representation of age groups in the workforce has introduced new attitudes and beliefs when it comes to the way that employees like to work and learn," said Chris Eigeland, CEO and Co-Founder at Go1. "While there are some similarities, particularly when it comes to the value they place on traditional education, there are also differences in how they want to acquire new knowledge and skills. This presents a challenge for leaders looking to upskill and realize the benefits of a generationally diverse workforce."

Work experience and on-job learning > university degrees

When it comes to transitioning into the workforce, 61% of employees said work experience best prepared them for their current roles, followed by formal on-the-job training (41%) and life experience (37%). Somewhat surprisingly, this perspective was relatively consistent across all age groups surveyed.

Interestingly, when asked what they wish they had known before entering the workforce, 50% of employees said how to approach career progression, followed by fundamentals of the role (32%) and how to collaborate with people in other departments (31%). The survey raises questions on how proactive universities are in including practical, career development and progression strategies in their pedagogy.

When deciding where to work or whether to stay at a job, around two-thirds (66%) of employees believe learning and development opportunities are absolutely essential and valuable. While increasing their salary potential is the top motivator to acquire new skills for Gen Z employees (45%), general personal development is the top motivator for Boomer (62%), Gen X (55%) and millennial (51%) employees.

"Box ticking" and varied values = barriers to developmen



Around three-quarters (73%) of employees believe that their current employer offers learning and development programs that adapt to or accommodate their specific needs. In fact, over half (59%) feel empowered to ask for better learning and development programs suited to their specific needs.

However, organizations approaching learning and development as a "box-ticking exercise" is the biggest frustration for employees (30%), followed by learning content that is boring (27%), not personalized (24%) or too long (24%). In addition, employers may not be giving their employees enough growth opportunities, with 44% agreeing that their organization doesn't make the most of its potential for upskilling and growth.


When it comes to managing a multi-generational team, organizations are doing well to create opportunities for people to work and learn with different age groups, with 46% agreeing they have opportunities to do so often. Learning from their wealth of experience (60%) is seen as the top benefit of a generationally diverse team, followed by having more diverse perspectives (59%) and the opportunities to learn from them (57%).

However, the research reveals companies may need to do more to bridge the generational divides in the workplace. When asked about the downsides of working with people from different age groups, people stuck in their own ways (45%) and different work ethics (41%) were considered top drawbacks. Over half (53%) also believe they learn differently compared to work in other age groups at the company.

The AI effect and TikTok-ification of learning

As new AI technology continues to permeate businesses and industries, employees are leaning towards optimism when it comes to the impact on their work and ability to learn. Almost half (48%) of employees are open to using AI-generated learning materials or using AI tools to help them learn, while 45% of employees agree or completely agree that AI will help them develop skills needed in the workplace more quickly.

In addition, using generative AI (44%) and finding information more quickly (46%) were named the top skills most needed to stay ahead of the AI curve. Younger workers are more likely to see AI as critical to their development, with around a third of Gen Z employees (31%) and millennials (31%) looking to generative AI as the only learning tools they need, compared to 18% of Gen X and 12% of Boomer employees.

The research also revealed the influence of video-based platforms like TikTok on how employees are consuming and engaging with learning content. Short videos of less than 3 minutes (47%) and on-the-job training with a real-life instructor (46%) are the top learning content types provided by employers, which is also consistent with the types employees like to use for learning, at 42% and 47% respectively.

"The ability to personalize learning to the varied needs of different generations can mean the difference between a high-performing workforce and an underpar one," said Eigeland. "L&D leaders will need to find new ways to tailor content curation, development and delivery strategies to the unique learning preferences of different generations if they hope to use learning as a competitive lever and close workforce skills gaps."

Methodology

The research was conducted by Method research and distributed by PureSpectrum among 3,000 adults aged between 18-75 who work full-time at office/desk-sitting jobs across Australia, the US and the UK. The sample was equally split between gender groups, with a representative geographic spread of respondents.

About Go1

The Go1 platform upskills your organization with highly relevant content for every employee, curated from the world's largest content library and delivered through the tools they already use. With one subscription, you can offer high-quality, skill-aligned content that your entire company will value - from audio to video, and from compliance to business, tech, and more. Our integrations with leading HR tech providers and workplace apps allow your teams to take advantage of the Go1 library through your existing solutions. he company has raised over $400 million in funding from investors AirTree Ventures, Blue Cloud Ventures, Five Sigma, Insight Partners, Madrona, Salesforce Ventures, SEEK Investments, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Y Combinator. Go1 is a Y Combinator 2023 Top Company, an SAP Partner with an SAP Endorsed App and an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award Nominee. To learn more, visit go1.com.


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