Early Bird: Getting to Know Generation Z’s Future Careers

October 15, 20158:26 am915 views

Agile headhunters, the race for Generation Z, those born between 1996 and 2000, starts now. Employers are just beginning to understand and accommodate the needs of Millennials, and already we are discussing the next cohort of employees: Generation Z. As they are growing up, it is essential for us to take a look at the next wave of digital natives headed for your organisation.

A new research study from Universum asks close to 50,000 high school graduates about their future careers, the necessity of higher education, and their attitudes to work and life – insights hiring companies can use to attract and retain the next generation of digital natives.

Universum’s 2015 Generation Z research study surveyed approximately 50,000 respondents across 46 countries. Their study focuses on those born between 1996 and 2000. Based on global averages, the study offers something new. While dozens of research initiatives explore Generation Z’s values as consumers, few explore its attitudes about work.

Gen Z: Digital talent for the next decade

Across all industries, companies are struggling to keep pace with digital innovation and younger workers are often better positioned to meet this need. The PwC Global CEO survey shows CEOs are strongly focused on sourcing top digital talent in fields like mobile technology, data mining and analysis, and cyber security.

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. As one Gen Z student explains, “We are the first true digital natives. I can almost simultaneously create a document, edit it, post a photo on Instagram and talk on the phone, all from the user-friendly interface of my iPhone.”

For companies that aim to compete based on digital innovation, preparing recruiting and branding efforts for Generation Z is simply a must.

See: Top 6 Tips to Attract Talent across all Generations of Workforce

Generation Z grows up

What exactly are Generation Z’s career-related fears? More than a third 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 is 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).

On the whole, Generation Z is optimistic about the years ahead, even if realistic about the challenges they face. The research indicates 65 percent are hopeful about the future (roughly evenly split between “somewhat hopeful” or “very hopeful”). However, compared to Gen Y, their outlook is significantly less optimistic about whether their quality of life will surpass that of their parents.

How can organisations take advantage?

  • Country-level discrepancies are critically important for global employers to understand, as it affects how recruiting and employee engagement efforts must be localised to match the attitudes of those students.
  • Organisations that are able to tailor their employer value propositions to a specific high-value audience – and in the case of Gen Z, do so well before competitors have reached them – can greatly improve brand recognition and brand perception among this cohort.

Other notes for organisations

  • Organisations must think carefully about whether it is feasible and appropriate to offer apprenticeships to promising students who may not be ready to invest time or money in a university degree. Is it possible to recruit talented youth to begin their careers either before or in parallel with post-secondary education, and what are the benefits (and risks) of doing so?
  • What can organisations offer as a supplement or replacement to traditional university degrees? Given Gen Z’s comfort with online learning, can organisations offer enough substance to replace a traditional four-year degree – and will students find this an attractive alternative to tertiary education?
  • Employers should be careful of the use of advertising to attract the attention and interest of Generation Z, and focus more on sharing the opportunities available to those working at their companies through more personal forms of communication like employee profiles and stories.

See also: Are You Ready to Hire Generation Z as Interns?

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