Now that we’ve firmly established the roles of millennials in the workplace, it’s time to make room for Gen Z. This is the first generation of workers to grow up with the internet; they know how to use social platforms to communicate and are poised to enter the workforce.
So, what do we need to know about them? Microsoft and YouGov recently commissioned a survey of people aged 17-25 to get a deeper dive into how Gen Z feels about entering the workforce and their vision for the future of work. We asked Mark Sparvell, Senior Manager, Education Marketing at Microsoft to share some of the findings.
Tell us a little about Gen Z, what do companies need to know and how are their views/outlooks different from past generations?
Gen Z represents the largest generation in history, estimated to reach about 82 million people. That means understanding the kinds of work and workplaces that will attract and retain this generation is critical for employers.
This generation is socially conscious, valuing diversity, inclusion and ‘connectedness’—which should be core values of any organization looking to attract and retain this generation. Accordingly, GenZers are typically drawn to jobs that contribute to the greater good, are enjoyable, and offer competitive compensation. In fact, new research by Microsoft and YouGov found that nearly half of all GenZers (44%) would rather be unemployed than work at a job they hate. Lastly, they’re not looking to sit in a cubicle for years – they’re entrepreneurial – 38% of those surveyed would rather be self-employed than work for a company, according to the survey.
What type of skills are they graduating with? According to the research, Gen Z students are graduating with skills in STEM, finance, business and communication. The survey also found that that 62% believe hard skills have changed and being able to adapt and be innovative are important when entering the workforce.
This generation is also graduating with other preferences which will impact their employment pathway, including a desire for professional development and early and consistent promotional opportunities. GenZers are also entrepreneurial and want an outlet for their ideas to be expressed. Finally, they thrive on constant feedback and communication and are drawn to companies that are invested in helping them cultivate the technical skills critical to the jobs of the future.
What’s their takeaway on the future of work, what kinds of skills do they need to know in order to succeed?
Our survey found that more than half of the Gen Z population (54.5%) is expecting to do a job that doesn’t exist yet. Globally, we know that automation and AI is fundamentally impacting all employment categories. Up to 75% of new jobs in the next 5 years will require technology skills and 30-40% of net new jobs across the 2030s will place a premium on social and emotional skills.
What are the top 5 tech related skills they’re pursuing on their own?
According to LinkedIn’s Grads Guide to Getting Hired survey, grads are investing in:
What’s the most popular job for new grads?
According to the LinkedIn survey, tech and consulting jobs are at the top of the list in popularity for GenZ. Additionally, careers in healthcare, education and financial services—noted by the World Economic Forum as positions that require STEM and social/emotional skills— are hiring new graduates at a high rate.
How do Gen Z workers feel about starting out in the work world – are they confident?
GenZ is hesitant to enter the work world due to the fact that the employment landscape is so competitive, dynamic and 1 in 3 don’t truly know what type of career they want. That being said, they are always open to learning new things and adapt better to change since they have adapted to new technology all their lives. And a bit of apprehension isn’t a bad thing – it’s healthy because they should have a growth mindset, and be asking themselves questions such as, “how can I get a job,” “how can I keep my job or, for this generation certainly, “How can I create a job?”
What’s your best piece of advice for recent grads?
As grads enter the workforce, strengthening soft skills is one of the best things they can do to for their career. While hard skills are important, softer skills like building emotional intelligence, collaborating with diverse groups of people, social awareness, persuasion, and having a positive mindset will give grads more career opportunities. In fact, we know that currently 58% of employers believe that current graduates are not workforce-ready and cite the social and emotional skills of self-awareness and self-regulation needed to work in dynamic, social environments— and 55% of recent graduates agree!
My final piece of advice would be to ensure you are building your employment profile and professional network through LinkedIn. Gather references and evidence of the skills and knowledge you possess on your profile and take criticism and failure as new opportunities for learning and growth.