Tech Training for All Generations

Among the generations in today’s workforce, there’s a definite difference in their technology savvy and usage habits. In today’s Advisor, we look at a study that describes this gap and how it relates to training this diverse workforce.

Generation Y workers, more astute in their technology skills than any prior age group, are forcing employers to reevaluate how they hire, train, and equip current and future workforces. These were the findings of a new study, Generational Research on Technology and its Impact in the Workplace, just released by CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the information technology (IT) industry.

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“In the next 5 to 10 years, Gen Y will completely dominate the workforce the way that Baby Boomers once did,” says Todd Thibodeaux, president and chief executive officer, CompTIA. “Generation Y has been raised in technology and they consider their aptitude for tech as a value that they bring to the table when seeking a job.”

Two-thirds of Gen Y respondents assessed their own technology skills as “cutting edge” or “upper tier.” Similarly, Gen Y’s expectations for tech in the workplace are quite high. Also, “an employer’s tech ‘savvy-ness’ is very high on their checklist on whether to take a job or not,” Thibodeaux noted.

Roughly half of survey respondents described their employer as either “cutting edge” or in the “upper tier” in their use of technology. Slightly less (42 percent) put their companies somewhere in the middle of the adoption curve.

Three-quarters of Gen Y workers used a smart phone for work purposes in the last year compared with 37 percent of Baby Boomers. Other devices more prevalent among younger workers include tablets, laptops, and GPS systems. Gen Y also considers social media a work tool, while Baby Boomers see it as more of a personal tool. “Factors like these may require employers to adapt to Gen Y’s expectations,” Thibodeaux remarked.

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Adapting to a younger workforce will likely extend into the areas of training. E-learning is especially appealing to Gen Y workers, who want to be autonomous in how they choose to interact with technology, deciding their own pace, and not being forced to interrupt normal workflow for training.

This hands-on attitude also impacts technical support in the workplace. “They often will try to troubleshoot the problem first on their own and want to brainstorm together with the IT staff,” Thibodeaux noted of Gen Y workers. “That’s different than older workers who want to hand off the problem and get it back when it’s finished.”

Data for the study are based on a May 2013 online survey of 700 respondents from different age groups and generational cohorts in a variety of industries. The full report is available at no cost to CompTIA members. Visit or contact for details.

Why It Matters

  • Technology in the workplace is the wave of the future, both for getting the job done and for training employees to get the job done.
  • Stay ahead of the curve by keeping your own technology skills up to date.
  • Use the data in this article, if necessary, to persuade management of the importance of perhaps funding train-the-trainer classes so that you can effectively use technology in your training programs.