By: Chris Jeffries is CEO and Founder of Launch Your Career
Young people have been hit hard by the pandemic. They have endured disruption to their education, uncertainty over exams and now their entry into the world of work is being affected too.
Many Gen Zs are unsure about what they want to do for a career.
The economic uncertainty doesn’t help either.
Britain’s economy shrank almost 10% last year. The pandemic caused whole sectors to close their doors for months on end. And it’s not over yet. At least 250,000 businesses are expected to fold this year. It’s hardly surprising this generation is questioning what their future holds.
We surveyed secondary school students just as lockdown three was ending to find out exactly how they are feeling about their future.
In our Careers after Covid research report we found that 70% of secondary school students do not know what they want to do for a career. That’s not because they are not concerned about it. In fact, 78% of students are worried about making the right career choice, with over a quarter (28%) saying they worry a lot.
To make decisions even harder, over half (54%) of secondary school students say the pandemic has changed their career ideas. After a year of seeing businesses failing, people being furloughed and parents losing jobs, young people are more unsure than ever about what they want to do.
So what can businesses do to attract the best talent, ease their transition into work and support their career options?
Inspiring through technology
One way for employers to get Gen Zs on board is by engaging them with technology.
The pandemic may have reduced opportunities for in-person industrial placements and internships with employers, but many organisations have found creative ways to keep these links strong through approaches such as remote networking, virtual internships and careers podcasts.
New techniques are making their mark here too. Virtual reality is proving to be effective in opening minds to different roles and workplaces. Businesses can show young people what it’s like to work for them by creating immersive experiences which allow a young person to move around a manufacturing plant or visualise different medical career pathways.
It’s important that businesses recognise what makes this generation tick.
Gen Z is outwardly facing. Not concerned with just their own lives, they are committed to inclusion and diversity, they are ethical and environmentally conscious.
They expect these values to be reflected in the workplace.
Whether that’s committing to being carbon neutral in the next 10 years or working towards equal access to vaccines on an international scale, employers need to highlight their efforts to be good global citizens. Through their actions they must demonstrate their commitment to society’s challenges and working to make the world a better place.
Work life balance
Most of us want a better work life balance. But younger workers expect and demand more flexibility from their jobs than previous generations. In fact, two thirds of young people want permanent flexible working post-pandemic.
They have grown up with technology that allows them to work from anywhere, any time. They are looking for remote working, a balanced lifestyle, a way to integrate work and non-work activities on their own schedule.
Far from lazy, they would like to use their time to look after their physical and mental health by working out at the gym at lunch, or a weekly volunteering afternoon at their local foodbank.
Ignore their progression at your own peril. Motivated to grow their careers and committed learners, it’s up to employers to help young people work their way up the career ladder. Online courses, upskilling, reskilling – it’s all in a day’s work to this generation.
Their curiosity and desire to learn can make them more entrepreneurial minded. The number of teenagers who have started a business in the UK has gone up by 700% in 10 years.
Others are planning to launch their business ventures in the future. According to this survey, 53% of Gen Z respondents say that, in 10 years, they hope to be running their own businesses. That proportion increased for Gen Z respondents who are currently in the workforce, with 65% optimistic that they will be running their own businesses in 2030.
Although, this does not necessarily mean they will stop being employees. Unafraid of portfolio careers and striving to find the right balance for them, they may well work for a company and run their own business at the same time.
As the largest generation, there is no doubt that Gen Zs are set to shape the future of work. As we move through this next stage of the pandemic, businesses should think about how to best engage with and support these new entrants to the workforce and help set them up as future leaders.