September 25, 2023

Generation Z has so few soft skills after lockdown that Big 4 consultants are offering classes to help new hires fit in at work

Due to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, Gen Z had to miss out on important experiences as they spent nearly two years in college and/or high school at home. They were robbed of the closure of graduations, the fun of college parties, and the hands-on experience of internships and first jobs. But they still had work to do.

Even that was an unexpectedly big letdown as the same lockdowns dramatically hurt their soft skills. The excitement of a first day of work was quickly dampened for recent college graduates when, instead of going to a swanky office full of employees, they got stuck in their childhood bedroom to talk to a bunch of floating heads on Zoom. Thanks to remote work, instead of navigating the time-honored tradition of making new friends at work, they probably interacted more with their parents than any young person eager to enter the early stages of adulthood would have wanted . The Big Four consultancies see an emerging market in educating Gen Z on proper workplace etiquette.

Deloitte and PwC already offer specialist training for Gen Z employees, and now KPMG’s UK office is the latest to add specialist training for pandemic-era graduates. The Telegraph reports. KPMG has a similar program in the US, as previously reported in the Wall Street Journal.

EY, the other member of the Big Four consulting firms, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about soft-skill training programs for graduates.

‘It’s hard to imagine’

Jon Holt, CEO of KPMG UK, explains Fortune he is deeply compassionate: “When I think back to my own time at the University of Nottingham, it is hard to imagine how my experiences – including the friendships I have formed – could have been affected by lockdowns,” Holt wrote in a statement by email. e-mail. “I admire their resilience and it is important that as a company we support them as they begin their education and career with us. This includes offering additional courses to help them build soft skills.”

The consultancy will offer special soft skills classes for incoming campus employees. The lessons include basic skills such as teamwork, giving presentations and effective face-to-face communication. In short, everything that people learn through osmosis in the earliest stages of their career. KPMG expects to hire around 1,500 UK graduates this year, a spokesman said Fortune.

Despite being the first truly digitally native generation, Gen Z’s inexperience scares them for “look[ing] stupid at work,” writes Fortunefrom Chris Morris. So while they are comfortable using digital tools to put together a slide deck or build an Excel spreadsheet, their main concern is presenting that work to others and the possibility of negative feedback, even if it is constructive.

This new specialized training program is consistent with KPMG’s reputation as a workplace that prioritizes the professional development of its employees. When it was in FortuneIn April’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, 93% of employees said they had received training and development opportunities over the past year.

Campus employees in the new Gen Z-specific training will be required to attend onboarding sessions in person and work from KPMG’s London office at least three days a week, according to a spokesperson. KPMG is not alone in believing that new hires (at any level) perform better with at least some time in the office. Facebook and Salesforce made similar claims earlier this year, saying they had hard data proving that people who joined the company in a hybrid capacity, even if they later transitioned to remote work, outperformed those on board in a completely remote environment.

According to a McKinsey study, helping junior employees feel supported can go a long way in recruiting Gen Z, who report the highest levels of mental health problems of any age group. KPMG has about 7,200 employees under the age of 25, according to previously shared data Fortune.

Some universities are also taking on the task of urging employers to give recent graduates specific advice on things that were previously overlooked, such as what to wear and where to eat lunch.

Skeptics of these new accommodations might want to consider that even US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy drew attention to the particularly devastating effects of pandemic lockdowns on young people. “The era of the pandemic… enforced physical distancing from loved ones, friends and communities has exacerbated the unprecedented stress young people already face,” he wrote in a 2021 advisory note. He cited the challenges young people face “ unprecedented and unique”. hard to navigate.”

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