Addressing the Soft Skills Gap in Gen Z: Prestigious Big 4 Firms Provide Comprehensive Training

**Specialized Training Programs for Gen Z Graduates**

The Impact of Lockdowns on Gen Z’s Soft Skills

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns had a significant impact on Gen Z, particularly recent college and high school graduates. These young individuals were deprived of important experiences such as graduation ceremonies, college parties, and hands-on internships and jobs. Instead, they found themselves confined to their childhood bedrooms, attending virtual meetings on platforms like Zoom. This lack of real-world interaction effectively hindered the development of their soft skills, which are essential for successful career progression.

The Need for Specialized Training

Recognizing the challenges faced by pandemic graduates, consulting firms like Deloitte, PwC, and KPMG have taken the initiative to provide specialized training programs to support them. KPMG’s U.K. office, as reported by The Telegraph, recently introduced specialized training programs for pandemic graduates. Similarly, KPMG in the U.S. has a similar initiative, as previously mentioned in The Wall Street Journal. However, there is no immediate information regarding EY’s approach to soft-skill training for recent graduates.

KPMG’s Support for Gen Z

Jon Holt, the CEO of KPMG UK, expressed his understanding and admiration for the resilience of Gen Z graduates. He acknowledged that the lockdowns had a profound impact on their experiences, including their ability to form friendships. Holt emphasized the importance of supporting these young individuals as they embark on their training and careers. As part of this support, KPMG will offer additional courses focusing on soft skills for campus hires.

Specialized Training Offerings

KPMG’s specialized training program for Gen Z graduates will cover foundational skills such as teamwork, giving presentations, and effective face-to-face communication. These skills were previously acquired through on-the-job experience, but the remote work environment has limited Gen Z’s exposure to them. The consulting firm expects to hire approximately 1,500 graduates in the U.K. this year, all of whom will undergo onboarding sessions in person and work from the London office at least three days a week.

Gen Z’s Concerns at Work

Despite being digitally native, Gen Z graduates often hesitate to showcase their skills at work due to the fear of looking incompetent. While they are adept at using digital tools, their main concern lies in presenting their work to others and potentially receiving negative feedback. Building their confidence in these areas is crucial for their professional growth and success.

KPMG’s Commitment to Employee Development

KPMG’s focus on supporting employee development is evident in its reputation as a workplace that prioritizes professional growth. In Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, 93% of KPMG employees reported receiving training and development opportunities. This commitment extends to Gen Z employees, empowering them to enhance their soft skills and thrive in their careers.

Balancing In-Office and Remote Work

KPMG, along with other companies like Facebook and Salesforce, believes that new hires perform better when they have some in-office time. Despite the shift towards remote work, these companies have found that individuals who join in a hybrid capacity, even if they later transition to remote work, deliver superior performance compared to those who were onboarded in a fully remote environment.

Supporting Gen Z’s Mental Health

Recognizing Gen Z’s high levels of mental health struggles, KPMG is dedicated to creating a supportive environment for its junior employees. McKinsey’s study indicates that Gen Z reports the highest levels of mental health challenges among all age groups. With around 7,200 employees under the age of 25, KPMG aims to provide the necessary support and resources to help these young individuals thrive.

University Advocacy for Guidance to Graduates

Some universities have also taken the initiative to urge employers to provide specific guidance to recent graduates. This guidance covers aspects that may have been previously overlooked, such as dress codes and lunch options. By providing these practical tips and recommendations, universities aim to equip graduates with the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the professional world successfully.

Addressing Unprecedented Challenges

Even the U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, acknowledged the substantial impact of lockdowns on young people. In an advisory note, he highlighted the unprecedented stresses that young individuals faced due to forced physical distancing. He described the challenges faced by Gen Z as being uniquely difficult to navigate.

In conclusion, specialized training programs, like those offered by KPMG, are vital in supporting Gen Z graduates as they enter the workforce. These programs help compensate for the lack of real-world experience caused by the pandemic and remote work arrangements. By focusing on developing soft skills and providing in-person onboarding experiences, consulting firms like KPMG are dedicated to nurturing the talent and potential of Gen Z employees.

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