AS THE EARLIER WAVES of Generation Z start to enter the workforce, education and training becomes more and more critical in insulating them from the threat of technological disruptions, a consultant said.

In an interview with BusinessWorld, Acumen Strategic Consulting, Inc. Managing Director Pauline G. Fermin said the bulk of Generation Zs, or those born starting 1997, are gearing up to join or are already part of the labor force. She added that most of the time the skills and training they come with are deemed insufficient.

“In five to 10 years, they will be middle managers so it is very critical. We need to be ready for them. I don’t think we are right now,” she said.

She stressed the need for schools to improve their curricula, adding “Ideally, it will help the education sector ramp it up. The methods, content and skills that we’re focusing on are just not adequate.”

Because they are so-called digital natives, — born and raised in an age of widespread use of technology and social media — Ms. Fermin said Generation Z’s learning styles are more visual and interactive as opposed to the traditional type of learning that is more teacher-centered.

Despite being more adept with basic technology, Ms. Fermin said there is still a need for companies to train Generation Z workers as they climb up the corporate ladder and manage institutions.

“Companies and businesses need to provide them with the tools and training in order to equip them to be productive employers and future leaders of organizations,” she said.

She added that with more forward-leaning training, younger workers will be able to withstand the threat of automation with the coming of the fourth industrial revolution. Technology is expected to complement work output since some areas will still be exclusive to humans, such as interpersonal skills and leadership skills.

“Automation is something that they will need in the workforce. In fact they expect it for repetitive tasks. They believe that certain things can be handled by technology,” she added.

Skills that are a must for young workers are interpersonal management, verbal and written communications; and critical thinking.

“They need to be taught the basic technical skills they need for the job… What they need is different kinds of skills. They have access to all the data but do they have the ability to analyze and draw out conclusions and think about it critically. These are the things they have to learn in order to be successful in any job,” Ms. Fermin said. — Gillian M. Cortez