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Exploring Gen Z’s Attitudes towards Future Careers

October 15, 2015

The attitudes of Generation Z towards future careers are changing soon. These are the next wave of digital natives, who are optimistic about the future and fascinated by entrepreneurship.

According to a recent survey by the global leader in employer branding, Universum on approximately 50,000 youth (born between 1996 and 2000) across 46 countries on their fears at work, attitudes towards higher education and future careers – there were some astonishing insights derived which will be useful for hiring companies to attract and retain the next generation of digital natives.

Gen Z has grown up with unparalleled access to information, as well as a near-effortless ability to interact with and influence others online. Gen Z’s comfort and facility with all things digital empowers them, giving them the sense that anything is possible. Now, global employers aiming to recruit and retain these young digital super-natives must study this newest generation’s ambitions and work styles.

Employers are just beginning to understand and accommodate the needs of Millennials, and already we’re discussing the next cohort of employees: Generation Z. In the coming decade, Generation Z will be stepping into these mission-critical roles, in part because they operate so differently from their older colleagues.

For companies that aim to compete based on digital innovation, preparing recruiting and branding efforts for Generation Z is simply a must. Some of the attitudes of generation Z towards future careers, according to findings by employers are:

  • Optimistic Spirit: This generation thinks anything is possible; 65 percent are hopeful about the future.
  • Values at Work: Nearly 4 in 10 fear that they won’t find a job that matches their personality. This desire to be themselves and express their personality at work is critical for employers to heed.
  • University Alternatives: Only 15 percent accept the idea of foregoing university outright, but 47 percent say they would “maybe” consider the notion of joining the workforce instead of pursuing college/university. Investing in training and development is a new imperative for employers.

See: 6 Tips to Make a Wise Career Switch

  • Entrepreneurial Mindset: An impressive 55 percent say they are interested in starting their own company – a figure that’s even higher in emerging markets. How will large global organizations recruit and retain this start-up generation?
  • Social selectivity: Social media seems an easy way to reach Gen Z, but employers must proceed with care. Gen Z doesn’t like overt advertising from brands – 58 percent say they dislike it – but plenty of other engagement opportunities exist outside of advertising.

What exactly are Generation Z’s career-related fears?

More than a third of Gen Z students fear they won’t find a job that matches their personality or that they will work in a role that doesn’t allow for development opportunities. Close behind is the fear of underperforming and the fear of not fulfilling career goals. It’s important to note, however, that these findings vary widely by country.

For example, the fear of not finding a job that “matches my personality” is a common fear in Japan and Hong Kong, where more than half choose it. Yet in China this figure is only 29 percent (Chinese students are significantly more likely than the global average to fear getting stuck with no development opportunities).

What drives these attitudes?

In some countries – including the US – Generation Z is spooked by massive student loan debts saddling Millennials and hampering their personal development. A recent US survey showed 56 percent of those aged 18 to 29 are putting off major events like marriage, purchasing a home or saving for retirement due to student debt.

Recent research further suggests, Gen Z isn’t convinced universities are preparing students for the workplace. In the US, only 38 percent say college is doing a good job preparing them. In some European countries, a university degree is not a foregone conclusion for talented students; in Italy, for example, the dropout rate hit 40 percent in 2014 and unemployment post-graduation remains alarmingly high.

Given Gen Z’s comfort with online learning, can organizations offer enough substance to replace a traditional four-year degree – and will students find this an attractive alternative to tertiary education?

Also read: How Studying Abroad Can Help Advance Your Career?

Image credit: flickr.com

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