Chances are you’ve heard enough talk about Millennials– what do they excel or fail at, how well do they work, what are their interests etc. But we would like to take a look at what comes next in the workforce: Generation Z. There have been a lot of confused adults trying to understand the characteristics of Millennials as consumers, workers and humans. And although no studies, articles or blog are perfectly conclusive, people have formed a stereotype about the Millennial Generation. If we weren’t confused enough, in walks Gen Z into adulthood with another set of behaviors.
Generational Behavior is shaped by the socio-political-economic climate at the time of their birth until adulthood. For example, Gen Y or ‘Millennials’ in the U.S. were born anywhere from 1980s to mid 90s. This period was shaped by economic prosperity and peace of the 90s, this was shattered by 9/11 and the economic crash of 2008. Another huge development in their lifetime is the birth of the internet. Millennials have been wildly hated by older generations in the past (characterized as lazy and self-centered), but they also provide elder generations with insights towards technology, practicality and social activism. In many ways, Gen Z is a segment of Millennials but they offer their own behaviors separate from the Millennial Umbrella.
A Profile of Gen Z
1996 – 2010 (growing up after 9/11 in an uneasy political forecast)
As Technology natives, Gen Z has never lived without technology and the internet. Smartphones and applications are another part of thinking not a ‘new technology’. Their minds have grown with technology, therefore Gen Z attention spans are approximately 8 seconds.
Gen Z is much more pessimistic towards the U.S.’s political trajectory(77% think the U.S is headed in the wrong direction). Although most are unable to vote, they think it is an important civic duty, but they have a distrust in elected officials and authority figures. Since they have grown up with same-sex marriages legalized and an African American President, their political views are more open.
Nearly half of Gen Z is ethnically diverse. Since this generation is shaped by many interracial parents, cultural and racial diversity is embraced and accepted as a normal part of life. They are also less worried about immigration as a problem compared to any other generation.
Gen Z is “Woke” to social injustice issues. It is very important for their jobs or studies to have a social/ethical impact.
Tech Attention Span
Gen Z has been exposed to technology at such a young age they think in the realm of the internet. For example, the average age a child gets an online presence is 6 months old (via the parents) and 81% of 2 year old children are leaving a digital footprint trail. This means there is already algorithms collecting data and delivering catered information to a child before they can read. Due to the essentially different Brain Wiring, GenZ needs a variety of learning sources. Integrating Tablets, Laptops and technology is crucial to use as a tool in education.
In accordance with the needs of Gen Z, higher education and the job market must welcome different types of learners. In contrast with previous generations, Gen Z listens to their peers more than parents when it comes to college advice. Therefore, they are more likely to listen to a peer developed marketing strategy. Hence, the era of the ‘Influencer’ that promotes/markets various products. Influencers (popular bloggers, instagrammers, socialites) are the key to reaching Gen Z because they are skeptical of traditional advertising.
But, Higher education is more important than ever. Currently there is the biggest disparity between high school degree wages and college degree holders. And an Associate degree is no longer bridging the wage gap, a Bachelor’s degree now earns a much higher salary.
But, future predictions tell us that Vocational programs may get a refresh. Jobs may place more importance on skills achieved rather than an expansive academic study. For instance, intensive coding camps and tech literacy programs are being invested in for the workers of tomorrow.