What is influencing the career decisions of Gen Z?

Apr 4, 2024 | Attraction & marketing, Home Featured, Research

New research on the aspirations and anxieties of Gen Z offers insight to what is influencing their career decisions, explains Oscar Crickmer at Springpod.

The career aspirations and anxieties of Generation Z are evolving.

Understanding and addressing these concerns is crucial for attracting early talent as well as fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment – one that young people want to join and that gives them the confidence to hit the ground running with their career goals.

Springpod and Amberjack’s 2023 Gen Z Careers Report sheds light on the challenges faced by this generation and their thought processes regarding taking their next steps. These valuable insights were shared at ISE’s Apprenticeship Conference 2024 for employers looking to make a positive impact.

How does the decision-making landscape look?

1) Influence of cost of living on career decisions

Gen Z, comprising individuals aged 12 to 27, are navigating career decisions in a landscape shaped by various socio-economic factors.

According to the report, 67% of Gen Z feel that salary and cost of living are more influential on their career decisions than other hot topics like AI, Brexit, and climate change.

Moreover, 71% of students find thinking about their future careers stressful, with this figure rising to 75% among neurodivergent students.

2) Gen Z are choosing earlier

Much has been made of how this generation is split into two distinct halves – those who remember a time before social media and those who’ve grown up with it.

Social media and smartphones have brought forth an environment in which young people are bombarded by information and subject to constant comparison.

In some ways it’s no wonder that our report found that more than a fifth of respondents have thought seriously about their career before age 13 and overall more than 76% of students had done so before their GCSEs.

Paired with the previous findings that this incoming generation is facing major economic uncertainty, we can start to build a picture of a cohort of young people not just with increasingly complex career decisions to make, but feeling the pressure to make them sooner.

3) And the playing field isn’t equal, students are being missed

One notable challenge highlighted in the report is the lack of equitable career guidance and support. The situation is most starkly summarised by one of the headline findings:

Students who have received free school meals are 53% more likely to have nobody to talk to about their career.

With almost 70% of students also saying they received career advice less than three times per year and nearly half saying they lack a role model in their dream profession, the stage is set for employers of all forms to alleviate these stressors.

They can also help reassure young people that they can succeed in spite of the turbulence they are facing.

Based on these findings, there’s a number of areas where employers can make the greatest possible impact such as making salary and career progression transparent and working with educators to provide career information and support.

Read the Gen Z Careers Report to further understand the aspirations and anxieties of young talent.

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