Gen Z Is Shaping a New Era of Learning: Here’s What you Should Know

December 18, 2018

See how and when Generation Z (Gen Z) wants to learn and develop in the workplace.

In 2019, a new generation will enter the workforce: Generation Z (Gen Z), composed of those born between 1995 and 2010. This generation is larger than the Millennial generation — at 61 million strong, it is the first cohort of workers that grew up with the Internet, and are used to dynamic and social communication from an early age.

To unpack generational learning we conducted a survey to assess trends in learning and identify any gaps in what influencers Gen Z to learn and stay engaged versus what L&D and HR leaders think they want.

Here is what talent developers should know:

Nearly all agree skills today are changing faster than ever, and Gen Z is keen to learn them.

  • 76% of Gen Z professionals feel that the skills necessary in today’s workforce are different from the skills necessary in past generations. Similarly, 91% of L&D leaders agree the skills necessary for today’s workforce have changed

  • The majority of Gen Z (59%) don’t feel their job will exist in the same form 20 years from now

Don’t underestimate financial incentives as motivators to learn.

Unlike their millennial predecessors for Gen Z learners financial incentives and career advancement matter.  More than half (59%) of Gen Z learners would learn professional skills to make more money, but just 33% of L&D pros said the same.

Similarly, 46% of Gen Z said they’d learn in order to get a promotion, but only 28% of L&D pros thought a promotion would motivate Gen Z to learn.

Gen Z wants to learn on their own terms and prefer bite-sized learning

As native Internet users, Gen Z are used to fast-moving technology and immediate gratification, and as noted in our research Gen Z feel like time is scarce. As such, L&D and HR leaders may want to consider investing in micro-learning, known for quickly closing skill and knowledge gaps, to fit into the busy lives of Gen Z.

Gen Z learners also prefer more independence in learning than L&D programs tend to offer. While nearly half of Gen Z respondents prefer a fully self-directed and independent approach to learning, only 20% of L&D and HR leaders reported that they plan to offer Gen Z learners this level of self-direction.

Gen Z believes hard skills are changing faster than ever

  • 62% of Gen Z stated that hard skills have changed faster than ever and are more important than soft skills.

Conversely, L&D leaders believe that soft skills are more important and 61% believe that Gen Z will need extra support for the development of soft skills, to navigate a changing world of work. A smaller, but still significant number of L&D leaders think Gen Z will need support in other areas as well.  For example, 41% believe Gen Z workers will need additional help to develop technical proficiency.

Similarly research from Deloitte supports this notion and suggests while Gen Z is anticipated to bring an unprecedented level of technology skills to the workforce, organizational leaders express apprehension about their interpersonal communication skills.

L&D leaders are getting ready and preparing for Gen Z

  • Three in 4 learning leaders are already preparing for Gen Z’s debut in the world of work

    • 98% agree that Gen Z learning preferences will differ from previous generations

    • 74% plan to make changes to their L&D program to accommodate Gen Z workers

    • 84% said they were confident they know what Gen Z will need, including doubling down on soft skills, especially communication, teamwork and time management

Discover how LinkedIn Learning can help employees of all generations feel engaged and thrive with our new Learner Engagement Playbook.


LinkedIn conducted a survey of 400 learning and HR professionals at small, medium, and large U.S. companies to understand how they are planning for a successful year of development for all learners; and conducted a survey of more than 2,000 Generation Z,  composed of those born between 1995 and 2010, which means that the oldest participants are about 22 and are just entering the workforce.