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Digital Transformation

Salesforce Research Shows Unexpected Skills Gap Among Gen Z Workers

Quick Take: A look at generational data from Salesforce’s 2022 Global Digital Skills Index shows Gen Z individuals don’t feel equipped with the digital skills needed to succeed in the workforce. The research also indicates that to capitalize on untapped Gen Z talent, businesses must prioritize training and reevaluate traditional education requirements on resumes.

It’s shocking but true: Gen Z is the first generation that can’t recall a world without the internet. Perhaps that’s why they are often seen as experts when it comes to the digital world.

Despite what other generations may believe about Gen Z, only 32% of this digital-native generation feels very equipped with the resources to learn the digital skills needed to thrive in the current or future workforce.

Only 32% of Gen Z feels very equipped with the resources to learn the digital skills needed to thrive.

Salesforce’s initial 2022 Global Digital Skills Index asked 23,000 workers across 19 countries about preparedness, access to learning resources, skill level, and participation in training. These latest findings highlight data from workers born between 1997 and 2002, and show that, in contrast with the surprising lack of digital readiness, Gen Z is actively seeking out education and training opportunities to conquer these technical subjects.

And with Gen Z projected to make up 27% of the global workforce by 2025, there is an urgent need for business leaders to reimagine their hiring and training processes.

Gen Z struggles to navigate their careers in a digital world

Why does the generation known as ‘Digital Natives’ feel so behind? To start, the pandemic has shifted how in-person working environments, training, and mentoring take place. With the global workforce now in a hybrid or remote environment, Gen Z has likely had limited opportunities to learn from colleagues who can provide career guidance and teach them the workplace skills they need to thrive. 

Less than one quarter of Gen Z considers themselves to be experts in coding (20%) and sustainability-focused skills (16%). They are also the only generation in Salesforce’s Index to consider AI a top-five critical skill to have in the next five years (73%), recognizing its importance for the future of work*. But, only 17% of Gen Z view themselves as “advanced” in AI-related digital skills.

Gen Z paves new trails to enter the digital workforce

Historically, it’s been difficult to secure a corporate job without a four-year college degree. However, the pandemic has impacted Gen Z’s interest in earning one — many in this generation are now considering whether the time and financial investments are worth making.

For businesses that are committed to requiring a four-year degree, this creates a smaller talent pool to hire from.

The good news? Talent is out there if companies shift their mindsets from only hiring candidates with a four-year degree to placing more emphasis on skills-based hiring or considering individuals that have sought alternative learning paths. Research from Salesforce’s Index shows that over one-third of incoming Gen Z workers, with or without a degree, are “very actively” participating in learning and training to gain critical digital skills  — potentially untapped talent, willing to forge new career paths untouched by other generations.

Gen Z is showing the global workforce the power employees have when it comes to paving their own trail with self-taught skills, certifications, and non-traditional life experiences. By tapping into this knowledge-hungry generation and arming them with the right resources, not only will businesses uncover new talent that is eager to learn the in-demand skills needed to succeed in a digital-first world, but they will also be creating a resilient workforce that is prepared for the evolutions to come.

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*This stat references the importance of AI in only the next five years, not the combined importance of now and the next five years as indicated in the Tableau dashboard.


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