"As automation replaces lower-skill jobs, the fast-growing occupations will require higher-level cognitive skills in areas such as collaboration, problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity," according to a new Microsoft research conducted in collaboration with McKinsey & Company's Education Practice.

Over 50 percent of human resource managers feel that skills shortages have worsened or greatly worsened in their organizations in the last two years; and less than 10 percent report skills shortage improvements. And 51 percent say education systems have done little or nothing to help address the skills shortage issue.

Only 26 percent of Gen Z perceive education as a barrier to workplace success. Gen Z feels their education did not prepare them for work or job seeking, and they do not feel confident that they will meet employers' expectations in the above ways.

To help Gen Z build these critical cognitive, social and emotional skills, educators and employers will need to rethink what and how they educate and train.

According to Meet Gen Z, a global survey of more than 3,000 members of Gen Z across 11 countries, here is where Gen Z feels prepared and unprepared at work.

What does Gen Z feel prepared to do?

  • Showing up on time (67 percent)
  • Working on a team (57 percent)
  • Hitting project deadlines (57 percent)
  • Working with customers (56 percent)

(Confidence in the above work skills stems primarily from general work and internship experiences--more so than from college or high-school experience.)

What Gen Z does not feel prepared to do?

  • Having adequate professional connections or experience (34 percent)
  • Negotiating (26 percent)
  • Networking (24 percent)
  • Speaking confidently in front of crowds (24 percent)
  • Working long hours (24 percent)
  • Resolving work conflicts (23 percent)
  • Being managed by another person (21 percent)

21mill.com is an example of a training solution that helps Gen Z build these necessary soft skills and it delivers the content in an innovative way that helps the next generation retain and apply the learning.

Here are some other ways organizations can bridge the skills gap, according to the Society of Human Resource Management's (SHRM) 2019 State of the Workplace.

Most Effective Remedies for Bridging the Skills Gap

  • Providing on-site training to employees (e.g., seminars, training programs)
  • Starting/expanding training programs to help improve the skills of new hires
  • Hiring external workforce (e.g., temps, independent contractors)
  • Increasing compensation
  • Improving retention efforts for current employees
     

Full Disclosure: I'm a proud partner at 21mill.com.