Workplace learning expert explains how to bolster new skills to keep up with AI, Gen Z

Taylor Blake, a workplace learning specialist, encouraged 'lifelong learning,' insisting 'the door is wide open for everyone'

A.I. is making a tectonic shift in the workplace, giving professionals more reasons than ever to stay ahead of the technological curve. 

New data shows 66% of industry leaders are now setting the bar high, saying they will not hire candidates who lack A.I. skills — a decision that could tilt the scales significantly in favor of the tech-savvy Gen Z.

At the same time, that could spell bad news for seasoned industry workers who are reluctant to change with the times.

"I think a lot of us have this mindset that learning is something we do early in our careers," Taylor Blake, senior vice president of new initiatives at employee learning platform Degreed, told Fox News Digital. 

"We learn in our 20s, we get it all figured out, and then we spend the rest of our working careers kind of building on that education. It's this shift to a mindset of ‘We now all need to be lifelong learners.'" 

robot hand reaching through computer to stock charts

Artificial intelligence is the future of technology as company leaders eye candidates with A.I.-driven skills. (iStock / iStock)

LinkedIn data from March suggests Zoomers (AKA Gen Z) are "arguably the most A.I.-ready generation," in addition to bringing "coding, creative and service" skills to the workplace and an interest in learning even more on the job.

In addition, a 2023 study indicated that Gen Z is arguably the most tech-ready generation, with 65% indicating they are "very or extremely familiar" with the technology and 46% saying it plays a "prominent role" in their daily lives.

Blake, whose role largely involves keeping up with A.I. advancements and tools, believes older generations can flip the narrative. He's witnessed members of all generations embrace the learning mindset necessary to succeed. 

"Years ago, learning how to use A.I. was pretty difficult. But now, using A.I. is like pickleball: easy to learn, accessible for all ages, and full of funny names," he said.


He shared some tips with Fox News Digital to help workers of all generations keep pace with A.I. and stand out in the job market.

"Most companies want you to know how to use the latest A.I. tools, not know all the technical theory behind them," he pointed out. 

Starting out with fundamental A.I. tools like ChatGPT is a free, easy and quick way to learn new skills, he said. 

"Use the basic tools. You’ll quickly learn what they’re capable of and where the limitations are. You can start for free with no technical learning curve," he noted.

Such A.I. language model platforms have been trained to use vast amounts of data to generate human-like text, supply answers to questions and carry on conversations. Simply type in a question, request help or advice, ask the chatbot to brainstorm some ideas for you, or even ask it to draft emails so you don't have to, and watch the technology work its magic.

"Upgrade to the paid version of ChatGPT and build your own GPTs. Again, no technical skills required," Blake added. 

He also recommended getting started with, which "focuses on using A.I. to summarize search results from the web vs. generating entirely new content like ChatGPT."


Person working remote

A person works from home in Tiskilwa, Illinois, on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. Taylor Blake of Degreed says employees can integrate A.I. into their roles. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

It functions like a search engine but, instead of presenting a list of links, it actively researches for you and provides concise answers drawn from information across the internet. Just type in your question and hit search.

Blake also recommends gearing your A.I. skills toward a specific industry. He suggested Futurepedia's A.I. search tool to help workers find the best A.I. software for their workflow. A quick search for "sales," for example, renders results that enable users to train A.I. to communicate with clients, receive A.I.-powered sales coaching or gain access to personalized marketing strategies for their specific clientele. 

You can also utilize specialized A.I. models like those found on one OpenAI portal, which features a variety of custom-built assistants curated by others, serving specific purposes, such as Adobe Express, Math Solver and Tutor Me. It also includes tools for generating images and other tailored functionalities.

"Find a workflow that you can apply A.I. to. [The] most impressive [thing] in a job interview is being able to explain how you can use A.I. in your specific role," Blake said. 

In order to hone in on those skills, identify a common workflow for your job. 

"Try using A.I. to help you with each step in that workflow. You’ll find lots of ideas and inspiration online," he said. 

Subscribing to A.I. newsletters and reading books about the latest A.I. tech are also good ways to keep abreast of the latest industry developments, he added.

Meanwhile, the 2024 Work Trend Index Annual Report from Microsoft and LinkedIn found that a shocking 71% of workplace leaders prefer hiring candidates with A.I. experience over those with more industry-related experience. Only 25% of leaders, however, indicate they are prioritizing employee training for generative A.I.


Based on these findings, Blake suggested older generations focus on learning on their own time and incorporating A.I. skills into smaller tasks at work in their own ways, even by asking a chatbot to break down larger swathes of text or offer feedback on grammar and basic math.

"There is more responsibility put on individuals who aren't in, kind of a growth environment, whether that school or, you know, internships or early positions that are focused more on growth and development. If you're mid or more senior in your career, it's more likely going to fall onto you," Blake said. 

"I'm sad to see that there's not more companies who are investing in training and upskilling their employees. So I think a lot of it's going to come back to us as employees. It's our responsibility to own our development and figure out how we can learn and incorporate these tools," he continued.

Despite the potential hurdles, he insists the "door is wide open for everyone" to pick up more A.I. experience and encourages workers of all ages to do so.