Students are suffering from low motivation and confidence about careers. Shoshanna Davis, founder of Fairy Job Mother, explains how students feel right now and how employers can best support.
Last year Deloitte reported 37% of Gen Z feels confident in their ability to navigate their career and the world of work, compared to 47% of millennials and 53% of Gen X.
The same study also found that a whopping 57% of Gen Z feel unprepared for the workforce, with just 24% feeling confident in their soft skills, such as communication and teamwork.
But, where does this lack of confidence come from, and how do students really feel?
Seven in 10 students have either been diagnosed with a long-term mental health condition, are experiencing a short-term mental health condition or think they have a condition that has not yet been diagnosed, according to Randstad.
Struggling with a mental health condition as a young person can be crippling, heavily impacting their ability to concentrate, manage stress, complete tasks and be productive.
Social media continues to create unrealistic expectations for students around work and career success.
This can lead to a constant feeling of inadequacy for students. They can feel that their career does not match those portrayed on social media, damaging confidence.
Cost of living and future prospects
With wages at an all-time low and interest rates at an all-time high, the cost of living crisis, high housing costs and competitive job markets are all creating a sense of uncertainty and anxiety about the future.
In turn, this is also impacting student confidence and motivation. Research shows financial concerns are already having an impact on future career aspirations.
Lasting impacts of the pandemic
The pandemic disrupted traditional socialisation patterns, making it difficult for students to develop basic social skills and build peer relationships.
This lead to increased feelings of loneliness, isolation and general anxiety around putting themselves in unknown or unfamiliar situations, impacting both confidence and motivation.
Combining the above factors can often make students feel like they already have so many things stacked against them and are destined for failure before they even start.
Here are four ways employers can build student trust, confidence and career motivation:
1. Know the right time to engage and create safe environments
Knowing when to engage students is key for recruitment efforts. Ensuring your recruitment cycle does not compete with stressful periods like university or A-Level exam season is key.
It’s also important to remember that post-covid students are lacking key social skills and confidence so recruitment efforts must focus on creating safe spaces for students where they feel comfortable to interact and authentically experience your brand.
Careers fairs, webinars and insight days can feel incredibly overwhelming to a young person who has never interacted with an employer.
It’s a good time to get creative and think of some fun, informal ways to engage students so they can get to know your brand and its values in a stress-free environment.
2. Find positive role models that they know or can relate to
The key to positive interactions and student engagement is relatability, and finding voices in the industry that they already know of and trust or can relate to.
Outside of your own organisation Instagram and TikTok are great places to find thought leaders and role models in the early careers space. They could become your brand advocates and ambassadors to help build trust with young people.
Social media like TikTok can be an effective tool to attract and engage Gen Z.
3. Provide value
Instead of educating students about your business or the roles you’re recruiting for immediately, consider providing value first to build trust.
One way of doing this is to run interactive workshops or events helping them to build on key soft skills that will help them throughout their career and the upcoming application process.
They’ll remember the value you provided and the positive interactions with your brand when application season comes around. They will also be equipped with the skills they need to fly through the application process.
4. Spotlight the impact of the work they’ll be doing for broader society
Gen Z are passionate about making a difference in the world and are interested in pursuing careers that align with their values and offer a sense of purpose.
When engaging students, employers should focus on how their company and the roles they’re recruiting for impact wider society and highlight the personal values with which those roles most closely align. This will help to build both brand affinity and trust amongst students.
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