Gen Z: a limited future or land of new opportunity?

Recent weeks have delivered several reports with worrying statistics on the employment of Generation Z.

Gen Z:  a limited future or land of new opportunity?

Recent weeks have delivered several reports with worrying statistics on the employment of Generation Z.  First came the figures from The Office for National Statistics showing that under 25s make up two-thirds of the 700,000 job losses since the start of the pandemic.  74% of those 16- to 24-year-olds have been unemployed for at least six months.   

The National Youth Agency published their report findings that it would take 1,000 new jobs and training places a day to get back to pre-pandemic levels by October 2021. It all makes for grim reading.  Young people have also tended to suffer worse from the lack of physical contact affecting their mental health.  Rishi Sunak is one of the most vocal members of the Government to stress the urgency to get them back into jobs.

Harvey Morton, Founder of Harvey Morton Digital, set up a greetings company at 15 before launching his current digital agency and is still only 23.  He was the winner of The Youth Employment UK Ambassador Award winner of 2019.  His company carried out a digital survey of 1000 people in February this year which found that 67% of people think the Government should do more to help Gen Z either start their own businesses or get back into work.  Morton believes that Universal Credit’s extensions and incentives to hire apprentices in the Budget were “just small plasters over a big hole.”   He explains that their research shows that most people sympathize with the under 25s and want the Government to help them get started in life, so they have similar opportunities to the generations before them. As a teenage entrepreneur himself, Morton is quick to add, “And if you have a great idea and finances, starting a business is a fantastic option.”  He also believes there will be a massive wave of creativity among the tech-savvy young, and this could be the year of the young entrepreneur with some additional government support.

Jimmy Williams is the co-founder of Urban Jungle, a company specializing in insurance to the rental market has a continual finger on the pulse of generation rent.  Williams is more optimistic about job opportunities in the coming months.   He came into the job market in the recession of 2008 and saw his friends struggle initially, but he says that most had launched their careers within a few months.  Similarly, he believes that a combination of factors, including the vaccine, will see the economy bounce back this summer. Firstly that will create the hospitality jobs that are the traditional domain of this age sector.  But Williams believes that there are more career opportunities for the digital savvy Gen Z’s because every business is now digital.  There is an urgent need for software engineers in the short term, which will create growth across all teams within companies in the longer term.  Williams says that young talent can also be of great value for businesses watching their outgoings right now.  Urban Jungle is a 100% digital business, and we’ll be doubling our workforce this year, with most of the jobs created for entry-level roles. My advice to younger people looking at a tough job market is to be patient and optimistic.  He also advises job hunters to concentrate on getting their CV tight and be clear as to what interests you in that sector, that company, and that particular job.”  

Hazel Jane is Convener for The Can Do Collective, a Scottish-based connected community of enterprise support organizations and leaders with a mission to build a leading, entrepreneurial, innovative, and creative society.  She is also the Entrepreneur Engagement Manager for Tech Nation.   Jane feels that Gen Z was always going to be facing a changing world due to the fourth industrial revolution, with or without the pandemic and they will be pioneers of a new future with climate change and global health at the top of the agenda.  Connectivity has opened a global job market and fantastic opportunities, providing your skill sets are kept up to date.  She also believes that we will see more people doing contract work and more with portfolio careers.  Jane points out that no-one would have ever dreamed of the jobs of Youtubers and influencers and Tik Tok stars, seeing them as a great example of Gen Z’s entrepreneurial abilities.  Jane adds, If you have a fantastic idea or a new way of doing something, there are plenty of people looking to invest in the next big thing. Whether it is crowdfunded, privately funded, or grant-funded, the money is out there if they’ve got the ambition and the drive. Entrepreneurship also shouldn’t happen in isolation – there’s strength in numbers, so championing each other is where Gen Z can make a huge difference.

We may well judge the Government is not doing enough to help.  But there are also positives to be had.  Gen Z is the most techno-savvy generation and, therefore, the most likely to adapt to the skills changes required to generate revenue in the future.  The local job market has been replaced by a global one for those adaptable and skilled enough to cope. There is evidence of high creativity and entrepreneurial ability in this generation.  There is more money available for funding than for previous generations and a track record of giants starting in recessions, Uber, Disney, Airbnb, and more.  Gen Zers have shown themselves capable of driving global change with their voices ringing loud in climate change and extinction rebellion.  The figures may look bad at the moment, but there are signs that in the long run, Gen Z could emerge as the winners of all the generations.

Jan Cavelle
Jan Cavelle

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