Gen Z – Are You Ready?
Editor's Note: This Blog Was Researched And Composed By Nicholas Kapp, a GenZ representative.
The Millennial Generation grabs a lot of attention these days! And, it is for good reason, since they are, by far, the largest cohort in the workforce at over 58.1M (Pew Research, December 2016). However, we must begin to consider the next generation – Generation Z (aka Gen Z), as they are now of the age to be integrating into the workplace. Or, are they even seeking jobs? And, do we assume that they are the same as the Millennial Generation? With the same characteristics and tendencies? Let’s take a look!
Gen Z is (loosely) defined as those being born in the mid-1990s to approximately 2010. So, at this stage, we are looking at teen employment, as well as those in their very early 20s.
Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teen employment is nowhere near where it was in 1979 and has even plummeted dramatically since 2000, with no improvement expected. Is Gen Z simply taking their time to enter the workforce? Is it due to the stereotypical “lazy,” or “entitled” attitude that Gen Z assimilated from the Millennials? In fact, it is quite the opposite.
A multitude of factors have contributed to this decrease in teen employment. But, the reasons may surprise you. It is actually an exciting time with an exciting future for the Gen Z workforce – and their future employers.
Teens today are more focused on schoolwork than previous generations. They have an increased pressure to go on to higher education. Indeed, college enrollment rates have risen to almost 70% in 2015 vs. less than 50% in 1980, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
In order for this college-bound population to be prepared, the high school curriculums have become more difficult than ever. For instance, students are taking more intense and higher-level math classes, among other studies, even earlier in their school “careers.” Furthermore, some local colleges have created programs for high school students to take courses and receive credits now. In turn, the demands of school have become so time-consuming that having a job in addition is simply not feasible.
It is a similar story in the summer. High school students are taking classes year-round. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “the proportion of teens enrolled [in summer classes] in July 2016 was 42%, which was more than four times higher than in July 1985.”
Or, teens that do decide to seek employment generally go with an internship for the experience and a resume builder, which is often not counted in the workforce. Community service and volunteer work have also become common paths for this generation, as colleges look favorably upon philanthropy, or social justice endeavors.
Meanwhile, there are other circumstances that play into the motivations and characteristics of Gen Z. This generation was raised during the Great Recession (late 2007 on). Therefore, they understand the importance of hard work. They value security. And, they want stability.
As a recent Chicago Tribune article describes, “based on an emerging trove of research, Gen Zers are entrepreneurial yet pragmatic, hardworking yet easily distracted, and have a streak of realism running through their desire to make a social impact.” In other words, they are a blend of the generations before them.
At the same time, they only know a digital world. They want (and use!) technology. They like the mobility, the flexibility and the sociability of it.
So, what does this emerging generation mean for employers? The future is bright – for both parties!
Gen Z will be educated, ready-and-willing to work and hardworking. They will be technology experts. They will also have high expectations, as they have set their own bar of achievement very high. And, they will want, seek and expect proper training, proper development.
For employers, it is vital to begin adopting the processes and capabilities now, including mobile technology and digital tools that are in alignment with Gen Z. Or, they will look elsewhere for the best opportunity and resources that are available to them.
Watch Out! Get Ready! Gen Z will be entering the workforce with a vengeance…in a good way. And, it is sooner than you might realize. Ironically, many Gen Zs are now heading back to colleges and universities for their final year. So, this first wave is entering the workplace in less than a year, which then begs the question – Are You Ready For Gen Z?
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Nicholas Kapp is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and Marketing, along with a Minor degree in Leadership Studies at University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business. Nicholas has also been active in the University’s Student Government, as a Freshman Council Member, Vice President's Chief of Staff, and Pillars For Carolina Orientation Mentor. In the Fall, he will take on the role of University 101 Peer Leader, co-instructing a class of first year students. Nicholas is currently a member of the Scrimmage Internship Program, as he aspires to work as a business professional with interests in Human Resources, Training and Development, as well as Marketing.