Millennials have been the most controversial generation in just about every way, but as the youngest millennials reach their mid-twenties, it’s time for attention to shift to their siblings. Gen Z, born between the late 1990s and early 2000s, is graduating high school and preparing to enter the workforce. But are they ready?

Many entry-level, low-skill jobs have been replaced by automation, and there is a startling skill gap that human resource departments are desperate to fill. Only 42 percent of HR professionals believe that Gen-Z graduates are prepared to enter the workforce, particularly when it comes to social and emotional skills that make collaboration and reasoning possible.

The Bridge Between College and Work

Just two or three decades ago, most college graduates left school fully prepared to enter the workforce and succeed. Today’s competitive market presents a much greater challenge. At least 51 percent of human resource professionals believe that education systems have done little to nothing to address the shortage of crucial social, emotional and cognitive skills lacking in the workforce.

The curriculum in most colleges is not responsive to employers’ needs, meaning many Gen Z graduates leave school with the intellectual knowledge they need but no way to effectively apply it. The problem spans from both a rapidly changing career landscape and too few companies willing to invest in training for Gen-Z applicants.

How Employers Can Help

Almost three-quarters of companies spend only $500 on upskilling and reskilling new employees. This means that Gen-Z candidates don’t stand much of a chance when it comes to finding work or learning on the job. In order to fill the chasm between education and employer demands, the youngest generation to enter the workforce will have to brush up on these in-demand soft skills.

  • Creativity.
  • Persuasion.
  • Collaboration.
  • Adaptability.
  • Time management.

Hard skills are heavily skewed toward technology with cloud computing, UX design and artificial intelligence is the most sought-after. Engineers who have skills in these areas will have greater job prospects, but a tech-oriented curriculum does not teach students the social and emotional skills they’ll need to work well with others in a work environment.

As the millennial generation before them, Generation Z is not free of judgment or challenges when it comes to finding work. As the world continues to adopt a tech-first mindset, graduates must strive to cultivate the crucial skills that connect, communicate and realize all of the ideas that make business possible.