Millennials News BlockDigital disruption is forcing companies to support new ways to communicate with customers and CIOs to harness new IT skills and capabilities from their workforces.

For CIOs, Millennials (recent college graduates to those in their mid-30s) represent a sizeable portion of IT staffers who either already have these skills or require additional training to strengthen these skill sets.

Millennials are hungry to obtain new skills. According to a survey of 1,200 employed Millennials conducted by Mindflash, 88% said they are willing to make personal sacrifices including foregoing vacation time in order to train themselves with the skills needed to compete in the workforce today.

As CIOs consider training options for Millennials, it’s important to recognize that many IT professionals from this generation have different training preferences and needs than Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers.

A study conducted by Time Inc. found that Millennials switch media types 27 times every nonworking hour. This demonstrates how Millennials generally prefer to receive information and communications in small bits. Meanwhile, their penchant for multitasking reflects how they are non-linear learners.

As high-level leaders in the enterprise, CIOs also need to identify and provide training for the skill sets that IT staffers need, including Millennials. This includes pinpointing skill set gaps that can be addressed that can help the IT organization to perform at a higher level.

For Millennials, this often includes soft skills such as communications, listening, and relationship building that is needed to be effective performers and to become successful leaders. According to a study of 592 business and learning professionals conducted by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), 56% of Millennials are not equipped with the skills they need to be successful in the workforce.

Of course, not all employees are cut from the same cloth. Each staffer responds differently to various types of training. Some Millennials, for instance, prefer shorter training sessions that include the use of digital tools that employees can make use of when it’s convenient for them.

Many Millennials also prefer informal training techniques. According to the ATD study, 53% of respondents find on-the-job training to be the most effective training and development strategy for Millennials.

Millennials are also known to be workplace nomads, switching employers every two years on average compared to five years for Gen X-ers and seven years for Baby Boomers, according to the ATD study. While CIOs have to carefully consider the amount of training to invest in itinerant employees, job rotations are one way to help keep IT staffers engaged while helping to deepen the IT organization’s bench strength.

CIOs need to train IT workers not only for the skills that are needed today but also to pave the foundation for the future IT organization. One study predicts that more than 3.6 million Baby Boomers will retire in 2017 and that one-fourth of all Millennial workers will move into managerial posts. Identifying those IT staffers who exhibit leadership qualities and adequately preparing them for management roles has become more pressing than ever.

The dramatic increase in the use of digital tools and data is compelling CIOs to think differently about developing the skill sets needed to support the 21st Century enterprise.

“CIOs need to look at creating teams with the talent for building complex models and algorithms for machine learning, augmented reality and artificial intelligence,” says Jim Fowler, CIO at GE in an HMG Strategy Transformational CIO blog post. “Those are some of the areas where we’ll be competing intensely over the next decade.”

Key Takeaways

  • Digital disruption is forcing CIOs to harness new skills and capabilities from their IT staffs.
  • As CIOs consider training options for Millennials, they must recognize that many IT professionals from this generation have different training preferences and needs than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.
  • CIOs also must identify the skill set gaps that need to be addressed to help the IT organization to perform at a higher level.