Generation Z describes those born between 1995 and 2009. Many of them are too young to remember the arrival of digital technology. They have grown up with and have been significantly socialised by screen-based devices.
How Gen Z differs to previous generations
Not only has the digital world impacted Generation Z, but the economy has been transformed in the last two and a half decades since they have been born. They’ve seen the professionalisation of careers in the growth of the knowledge economy. Office-based work interfaces through technology in many of their households.
There has been a large increase in the proportion of young people going to university, and they have flexibility as workers in a global workforce. They are empowered as they come of age with 21st Century skills in a time of an aging workforce that is seeking out new and digital talent.
There has also been a change in the economy with rising living and housing costs. This means that Generation Z is having to think about saving for home a lot earlier than previous generations and find other ways to fund their financial goals. From being entrepreneurs and starting their own businesses to being contractors or self-employed. They are more mobile in terms of where they will work and interact.
The future of work for Gen Z
Every aspect of work is undergoing massive change. Where we work has been transformed in a work from home environment that has changed how people work. It’s no longer about set hours and hourly based work, but outcomes and empowering the employee to get the work done. How workers interact has changed with team-based work shifting to accommodate hybrid working environments. Occupation types are also continuing to change with new jobs and industries emerging.
While robotics and artificial intelligence will impact the future of work, the intrinsic human skills like creativity and the timeless ability to learn will be even more important in a more digitally integrated future. Technology does well in repetitive, structured, and programmed tasks. Therefore it is the skills of creative thinking, interacting with people, having empathy, the ability to collaborate and innovate that will be in high-demand in the future. Tasks and sectors that involve these skills provide an exciting opportunity for school leavers today.
The ability to think like an entrepreneur, a manager and operate like the owner of the business is also going to be sought-after. This is because the future of work will involve more of a decentralised working environment where people have to be in charge of their own area, bring results and not just think of themselves as a cog in the wheel. Independent and creative thinking, and an entrepreneurial mindset is going to be key. It is not only these competencies and skills required for the future of work, but character qualities such as fortitude, resilience and a good work ethic that will also be in-demand among today’s school leavers.
Finding purpose – advice for today’s school leavers
Generation Z will live longer than previous generations, so ensuring they find meaning and purpose in their work is also going to be important to future-proofing their careers and work life.
Finding what one is passionate about is a worthy endeavour. While not every job is going to fill us every day with joy and excitement, people need to at least be clear on the impacts they want to make on what matters to them in life. If all you do is find a job that has good employment security, pays well, or lines up with what the career advisor said, it is unlikely you will stick with it. But if you can line up what you are passionate about doing with something you can be well-trained in and paid for, then you’ve lined up three important things. The passion, the contribution, what you are motivated around and where you want to make a difference to have an impact is a key aspect of the equation.
Getting started and finding momentum is also important. Think about what you’re passionate about and keep edging towards that. Then you can start to carve out a career that enables you to contribute for a long period of time. That consistent service and contribution in the one direction is what really builds a lifetime of change and impact.