Gen Y, the first generation to grow up with the Internet and the 'Me, me, me' generation according to Time, wants and expects a lot when it comes to how they spend their time and their money.
What they want from continuing education is no different.
Aside from offering value, a ladder to success and a new skill set, here are five things Gen Y wants out of continuing education:
1. Values-oriented material
Gen Y is a diverse, open minded and socially aware generation. They value differences and gravitate toward multicultural experiences. Courses and events that center around social responsibility, tolerance and global viewpoints appeal to the unique value set of Gen Y.
2. Face-to-face time
From banking to buying underwear, Gen Y already does everything online and they're craving more face-to-face time when it comes to professional development, self-improvement and learning new skills. That doesn't mean Gen Y won't take an online course or seminar, but they like to have the option. Courses that are offered in-person and online are great for attracting Gen Y students.
You can't just tell Gen Y, you have to let them experience something for themselves. Move courses from the classroom out into the field and replace lectures with events or group projects. If your continuing education organization can offer Gen Y a new or unique experience, you're in a great spot for attracting students. Think about partnering with area businesses or nonprofits for ideas, such as beer making at the local brewery or event planning with a charity for one of its fund raisers.
4. An end-achievement
Completing a course or seminar is great and all, but what will students actually have accomplished by the time the class is complete? Generation Y is achievement-oriented and they are attracted to courses that promise a brand new skill set, certification title, or even a physical representation of their work by the end. Be sure to include this information in your course descriptions.
5. A shorter time commitment
Generation Y isn't incapable of making a commitment, but a long, drawn-out course or seminar can be intimidating for a generation of busy multi-taskers. Hybrid courses that use a combination of in-person and online meetings, or segmented courses appeal to Gen Y's busy schedules.
More Gen Y presenters will be at this year's LERN Annual Conference, in San Francisco Nov. 20-23, than at any previous LERN conference. A panel of Gen Y experts will lead a discussion on Generation Y marketing, programming and interests. If you attend, you'll get great tips on attracting, retaining and hiring Gen Y to move your organization forward.