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How upskilling can help the ‘forgotten’ Gen X stand out

Learn how upskilling can empower Gen X to reach their full potential and help shake the ‘forgotten generation’ stereotype.
Courtney Norton, Content Writer

If you’re a middle child, you’ve likely heard about or experienced the ‘middle child’ stereotypes. You may even feel left out or forgotten in favour of the oldest and youngest children in your family.

However, being neither the oldest nor youngest comes with its own set of skills, including expertise in negotiation and compromise. Middle children are also known for valuing and prioritising fairness. 

You might be thinking, “why are we talking about middle children? I thought this was about the different generations and upskilling in the workplace.” Don’t worry, it is. The concept of middle children applies to the world of work as well. Who are these middle children of the workplace?

Introducing Gen X.  

Members of Gen X sit sandwiched between their workplace ‘older siblings’ — Baby Boomers — and their workplace ‘younger siblings’ — Millennials and Gen Z. As the most experienced workers, Baby Boomers use their experience to propel themselves to their workplace goals. Meanwhile, Millennials and Gen Z use their youthful tenacity to do the same thing, and it works.  

Don’t worry though, because although they may often be referred to as the 'forgotten generation', all is not lost for Gen X. In fact, as many of them start to move into leadership positions in the workplace, it’s just beginning!  

With many Gen Xers already being experts in compromise and negotiation, Gen X employees are already naturally equipped with excellent leadership skills

Businesses simply need to invest more in learning and development of their Gen X future leaders. 

By giving Gen X employees the space to showcase and improve the skills they already have, as well as gaining new ones, businesses are setting themselves up for future success and helping to eliminate that pesky ‘forgotten generation’ stereotype. 

Let’s look further into what the next few years may look like for Gen X employees as well as some of the ways upskilling and reskilling can be used to tackle the ‘forgotten generation’ stigma. 

Gen X learners aren’t going anywhere 

A 2018 study from Global Leadership Forecast revealed that Gen X held 51% of workplace leadership roles globally. Many Baby Boomers, who likely hold much of the other 49% of leadership positions, will enter retirement in the next few years.  

As a result, even more workplace leadership positions will open up to the next in line. In other words, Gen X are here to stay, especially in leadership positions. Therefore, it’s essential for workplaces to ensure their upskilling and reskilling facilities are up to scratch. 

When it comes to this so-called ‘forgotten’ generation, businesses simply cannot afford to forget about their Gen X employees. 


As current and upcoming leaders in the world of work, Gen X need to be adequately prepared to lead. Succeeding in a current non-leadership role is great, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that same person will be an effective leader. 

By investing in leadership training (for Gen X in particular) businesses can ensure that teams that are already successful will stay that way, even with a change of leadership. 

Questions to ask Gen X learners  

By now, we know that a tailored learning experience is essential to create the best possible learning outcomes in the workplace. Part of creating a tailored learning experience is asking questions. However, there’s no point in asking questions about learning if they’re not also customised to the demographic that you’re asking them to. 


Let’s dive further into some of the questions that workplace leaders can ask their Gen X employees as well as why these are exactly the sort of questions that hold the key to an ideal upskilling and reskilling experience. 

In an ideal world, where would you like your career to be in 10 years? 
While everyone’s career journey is unique, older members of Gen X will likely remain in the workforce for another 10 years and Gen X’s youngest members will likely remain in the workforce for the next 30 years.  

Undoubtedly, someone with approximately 10 years left of their career will have very different goals than someone with 30 years left, even though they’re technically from the same generation.  

It’s essential for employers to cater to both types of people if they want to ensure that learning and development opportunities cover as many avenues as possible. 

Are there any knowledge gaps in your current field of work that you’d like to explore more? 

While employees may already be aware of knowledge gaps that could affect their current role, they may not believe they have the time to complete that learning or may be concerned that a workplace leader could look at a knowledge gap as a weakness rather than an opportunity.  

By asking this question, workplace leaders are showing their employees that they see knowledge gaps as an opportunity to learn. Further, they demonstrate that they are willing to invest in employees to fill those knowledge gaps. 

Is there anything outside of your current field of work that you’d like to learn more about? 

As a workplace leader, you might look at this question and see it as counterproductive. After all, how will learning about something that is not related to their current position help an employee be better at work? 

By asking this question, workplace leaders are proving to employees that they care about them beyond their success in their day to day role at work.

Additionally, allowing employees to explore fields outside of their current role could unlock a talent you never knew they had. This can prove extremely valuable to the business overall, not just to the individual employee.


What does your dream learning module look like? 

This question is really multiple questions rolled into one. Nonetheless, it is essential for several reasons. Firstly, by asking employees how they want to learn, employers are showing them that they actually care about the enjoyment of learning and not just about ticking a box. 

Additionally, asking this question helps employers to customise the learning experience in a way that makes employees truly want to use workplace L&D tools rather than feeling like they have to. Some of the questions to help with this customisation might include: 

  • Would micro-learning options be ideal for you, or do you prefer more long-form style learning? 
  • Would you prefer to keep everything on your work computer, or would you like the option to complete your learning on a mobile device? 
  • Do you like video content, or would you prefer to read the content and take notes that way? 

By taking the time to forecast what the future of work will look like for Gen X and asking them questions about what and how they want to learn, businesses are setting themselves up for success both in terms of employee retention and overall business results.  

Furthermore, it gives Gen X learners the space to reach their full potential and showcase that potential in the workplace. If that continues, the ‘forgotten generation’ certainly won’t stay forgotten for long! 

For more insights into upskilling and reskilling, be sure to subscribe to the Go1 newsletter and stay on top of all the latest L&D trends. Or, you can book a demo today to find out how Go1 can help with your team’s learning needs.  

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