Why your tech capability should be on a job spec

Generation Z – those born after 1995 –are starting to enter the workforce at pace. Growing up with ubiquitous connectivity and evolving mobile technology has shaped Gen Z’s priorities for the workplace. 91% of this group say that technological sophistication impacts their interest in working at a company. This is hardly surprising, as they are now often described as the “ultimate technology natives”. Businesses need to not only deploy the technology that this new generation craves, but shout that capability from the rooftops, if they are to recruit the talent they need to succeed.

SMEs in particular – accounting for 99.9% of businesses and 60% of the workforce in the UK private sector – will become increasingly dependant on this demographic to drive growth. They are the latest group to enter the workforce, but also hold many skills and qualities – creativity and innovation the most highly prized – that will be important to these agile organizations. But competition for this new talent pool is fierce and this highly skilled younger generation places huge demands on their prospective employers.

Agile tech and working practices

Much of the discussion when millennials joined the workforce, positioned them as being “tech-savvy”. With Gen Z, this goes much further. We now have the first generation born into a world of social media, online gaming, and a smartphone in every pocket. Snapchat; Instagram; WhatsApp; even more so than the millennial generation (who’s key influences included Myspace and Facebook), Gen Z expect, receive and digest information instantly.

This demand doesn’t change when they walk into their place of work. Gen Z employees want the latest technology at their fingertips and to be just as connected – in the technology sense – at work as they are in their day-to-day lives. This manifests itself in several guises. Gen Z have always had access to any information or contact, from any location in the world – provided there is 4G or wireless. Increasingly, the same can be said for work – younger generations want the flexibility to be able to work from anywhere in a connected and agile way. Businesses need to make sure that they have the technology in place to facilitate this, as well as exploring more cultural initiatives, like the design of “third spaces” that encourage interactions outside of any rigid departmental boundaries or formalised meeting rooms.

Harnessing the potential of Gen Z

Their highly networked and tech-driven upbringing has fostered a more entrepreneurial generation in Gen Z. In fact, 72% want to start a business of their own in the future. SMEs can harness that motivated and strategic outlook within their organization if they give them a chance. Where possible, promote the freedom to be autonomous while still having the appropriate checks and balances needed. Flattening organizational charts and concepts of hierarchy – as well as providing constant opportunities to learn and develop – will all be important to attracting Gen Z. Many organizations are looking into concepts like “scrums” – agile breakout groups and teams – rather than rigid hierarchies.

This equally feeds into the work itself. When it comes to Gen Z, it’s not just about how they work, but what the work actually is. Using technology has placed a premium on their key skills like creativity, innovative thinking and the ability to understand and process information quickly. Organizations that can use technology effectively, automating laborious tasks like data entry, will better attract and unleash the potential of this new generation in the workforce.

Learning and development

Having grown up during the 2008 recessionGen Z are also naturally more pragmatic than their millennial predecessors, particularly appreciating the value and efficiencies that technology brings to the workplace. The influence of these more risk-averse times and familiarity with the rise of new technologies, has also made Gen Z much more conscious of the need to learn new skills to stay relevant and compete.

Gen Z have grown up with the world’s largest ever on-demand how-to video library – YouTube. With that bank of learning just a few clicks away in their personal lives, this new section of the labour force wants equally innovative solutions to appease that thirst for knowledge and development. Organizations are responding. The NHS, for example, has begun to train their doctors and nurses with the help of virtual realities. Instead of learning their trade in real-life operations and emergencies, VR technology enables them to acquire and train their skills safely. While not applicable to every business, it does highlight the need for organizations to better embrace new technologies and change workforce practices, when looking to attract and engage younger generations.

SME leaders must ensure that they have the technology and organizational flexibility that this new Gen Z workforce craves – and it’s not just about having an iPad on every desk. They want to be able to work from anywhere with agility and access to instant information, while being given the freedom to think creatively, learn and have a real impact on the organization. Having the right business technology in place sits at the heart of delivering on this and organizations need to take heed of those demands if they are to attract and retain Gen Z talent. In fact, that technology capability is so important, it should sit on top of every job spec.

Need training on a new finance system? Go back to the classroom for a richer and more successful experience

Have you ever hit a stumbling block whilst working through a self-paced online course? Maybe you’ve been working through the instructions and guidelines and then suddenly, something just doesn’t look right. Did you miss a step somewhere? What will happen if you go back to previous steps to try and figure out the problem? Will you lose the work you have completed so far?

Or maybe you are just curious to find out what happens if you click a certain button that’s not featured in the pre-planned training course?

My name is Ricky Parkash. I am a qualified accountant and have been a consultant and trainer of finance systems for over 15 years, including SAP, IBM Cognos and Anaplan. I have a particularly keen interest in developing simple and clear methods to deliver complex scenarios to training delegates that attend my classroom based courses.

The purpose of this blog is to provide food for thought to anyone considering an online course versus a classroom based training course on the same subject.

Training and learning goes back centuries and comprises of a pupil having a teacher, master, mentor or a guide telling, explaining and showing how something is done and providing immediate feedback when it’s the students turn.

When it comes to learning a new finance system, classroom training has this same compound effect, with the trainer having the ability to assess the delegate in real time. Where online training may have the advantages of availability, it lacks the interaction, focus and most importantly eliminates the ‘human touch’.

I’ve spent many times in a classroom ‘watching the penny drop’ with a delegate when something is explained. It gives me great satisfaction to see a delegate who doesn’t know anything about the new finance system on the morning of day one, go on to build a multi-dimensional use case model by the afternoon of day three. To me, this is just further evidence of the speed at which learning can take place in the classroom.

As we all know, the goal of training is to educate the delegate, enabling them to perform their role and subsequently enhance their career. Classroom training provides a safe space, where delegates won’t feel intimidated by mistakes or lack of knowledge. When a delegate leaves a classroom course to return to work after passing the accreditation exam, it is with pride that he or she delivers the news to their colleagues and employer. They haven’t spent a few lonely days fixed to their computer screens whilst working independently through an online course, so they usually return to the office with a spring in their step and a new certification!

Classroom training can also be fun! If the trainer has a string of jokes, acronyms, memory aides or amusing war stories, this can all add to having a longer term understanding of the topic at hand. For example, I often liken the process of loading data into a multi-dimensional module to playing 3D Battleships; it requires all the co-ordinates to fire a numeric or text value in the correct cell. And all accountants will recognise their difficulty in tearing themselves away from spreadsheets and that’s supported by the fitting alternative description for the Institute of Chartered Accountants In England and Wales (ICAEW); the Institute of Calculator Addicts and Excel Worshipers.

To summarise my thoughts on why classroom training is more productive and delivers better all round results:

A Sense Of Completion

Unlike online self-paced courses, classroom courses won’t stop halfway through. The ultimate objective is to wave a congratulatory goodbye to delegates at the end of the course whilst handing them their certificate of completion. There are no distractions (the day job being the most common!) and delegates don’t need to worry about time management whilst in attendance. Instead they can focus fully on the task at hand.

Practice

Ample opportunity is provided for each delegate to build and rebuild or test a changed scenario with verification from the instructor on the merits of an alternative option. And if you’ve nailed it before the others on the course, you might even have time for a quick coffee before moving onto the next challenge.

Better Return On Investment

Studies show that through a continuous flow of learning, delegates retain and apply their new knowledge much quicker than a ‘stop-start’ experience.

Learning From Other Participants

Even the instructor can benefit here!! Sharing experiences amongst the group, tips and tricks, positive or indeed negative experiences all leads to a richer overall experience. Plus of course, it’s yet another excellent opportunity to build your network of like minded peers.

Interested in an Anaplan Classroom Based Training Course?

Learn more about our training courses and book yourself onto our Introduction to Model Building Course or our Intermediate Model Building Course today!