Jack Constant

By Jack Constant, Director of Sales at The Professional Alternative

Finding, hiring and retaining trainees has become a real challenge for lots of professional service firms.

Delivering market-leading pay and an engaging, welcoming work culture are two key elements of attracting the best talent – but how good is your approach to learning and development?

According to LinkedIn, a staggering 76 per cent of Gen Z learners believe that continuous learning is pivotal to their career success.

Of course, for many, this may mean the completion of their technical training, but equally new joiners demand support with their “soft skills” as well, which in themselves are becoming more valuable to clients as technology increasingly deals with the more technical aspects of their work.

With their needs in mind, it is clear to see that the traditional long-form learning techniques need to change.

We are talking about the Instagram and TikTok generation, who are used to bitesize, entertaining and engaging content.

A dry, hour-long video followed by a quiz just doesn’t fit into their preferred method of learning.

Say’s who?

The same LinkedIn study showed that new learners want to engage with effective online courses over 50 per cent more than previous generations.

Whilst mentoring and a practical application of learned skills are still important, their appetite for learning and development extends further, however, this comes with specific preferences that firms need to address.

Gen Z places immense value on upskilling, training, and development, often weighing these factors heavily when choosing a job.

While traditional compensation packages attract them, opportunities for professional growth are equally, if not more, influential in their decision-making process.

The challenge for firms is not just to provide learning opportunities but to deliver them in a format that resonates with these young professionals.

The shortcomings of conventional CPD approaches

Traditional CPD and training sessions often lean towards lengthy, lecture-based formats, which might not be the best approach for engaging Gen Z learners.

Research from Salve Regina University in America highlights that Gen Z prefers interactive, social, and technology-driven learning experiences over conventional methods.

Furthermore, data from global publishers Barnes and Noble reveal that only 12 per cent of Gen Z learners favour lecture-based environments, including long-form online webinars

This demographic would rather explore personalised, self-paced online courses than sit through extended periods of passive listening.

How to create a learning and development strategy

Given these changes in the way that trainees prefer to learn and their expectations of development, along with their willingness to self-teach, a new, different approach is key.

Capturing and retaining the attention of Gen Z trainees lies in making learning enjoyable and succinct.

Courses and materials that break away from the mould of traditional formats can help enhance CPD and training in the legal and accounting professions so that it becomes a pull for the best talent.

Having worked with firms on their CPD strategies, here are a few tips from our team:

  1. Interactive and social learning platforms: Leveraging technology to create dynamic learning environments can significantly enhance engagement. Interactive platforms that incorporate gamification, real-time feedback, and collaborative tools can mirror the social and connected experiences that Gen Z values.
  2. Microlearning: Instead of prolonged sessions, breaking down information into smaller, manageable chunks can help maintain concentration and improve retention. Microlearning modules allow learners to digest information at their own pace and revisit content as needed.
  3. Personalised learning: Offering customisable learning experiences that cater to individual preferences and career goals can motivate Gen Z learners. Equally, this can help firms as well to create a package of training that is standardised and delivered efficiently.
  4. Multimedia content: Diversifying the types of content used in training – from interactive videos and infographics to podcasts and simulations – can cater to varied learning styles and prevent monotony.
  5. Inject entertainment: Learning and development don’t have to be dull, use content that is engaging, interactive and most of all enjoyable to complete. Remember, each course is an investment in a person’s time, what is their ROI?
  6. Tracking: With the various CPD reporting requirements, most trainees (and indeed firms) would favour a single platform to log their hours and create reports that can be easily sent to regulators and professional bodies – especially if this saves time.

Shake things up

Given the demand and importance placed on learning and development by Gen Z and your other team members, it is one area where you can’t afford to get things wrong.

The job market remains highly competitive, especially in the professional services market, and your team members have expectations of you as an employer that are equal to your expectations of them.

If when you ask your team to complete more training you get a collective groan or an unwillingness to engage, it is time to reassess how you deliver CPD.

At The Professional Alternative, we think that now is the time to change the professional industry’s approach to how it empowers the next generation with skills that they value, delivered in a way that fits their preferred method of learning.

If you want to see how we do things differently, we would love to welcome you to a demo to show you how our platform is different and addresses many of the challenges highlighted in this article.

Book a personalised demo

Categories: Blog