Plenty has been written about millennials (born 1981-1996) and work. However, with the oldest millennials in their late 30s and many assuming leadership positions, a new, younger generation is now entering the workforce – Generation Z. The oldest members of this new wave (born in 1997, according to Pew) are graduating from university this year.
So how are Gen Z and millennials different? Though we are still in the early stages of seeing Gen Z develop, there are some key differences to point to: Gen Z grew up in a world of geopolitical and economic turmoil; the oldest Gen Zers were only four when the events of 9/11 happened, and they watched their parents struggle with the stress brought on by the 2008 global economic recession. The oldest millennials experienced decades of relative peace prior to 9/11 and, with many already in the workforce in 2008, they felt the recession as a shock as opposed to the norm.
Gen Z also has a unique relationship with technology. Millennials are often thought of as the first “always connected” generation, but many grew up with dial-up internet and landlines. Gen Z had access to smartphones from childhood – the oldest Gen Zers were 10 when the iPhone launched in 2007 – and many have likely never even seen a floppy disk! In this sense, Gen Zers may be the first true digital “natives.”
Gen Z demonstrates a strong interest in “future-proof” jobs
What do we see as Gen Z enters the workforce? How are their unique life experiences affecting the type of jobs they want?
To learn more, Indeed’s analytics team crunched the numbers on Gen Zers of graduation age compared to everyone else. We also calculated a “popularity index” to show how much more frequently this group clicks on certain full-time job postings compared to all other job seekers.
Given that they grew up during the Great Recession, we see a priority for stability reflected in searches on Indeed, where we see a strong showing for tech which gives them a lot of employment opportunities and choice. Almost half of our list is made up of tech-related jobs, fittingly enough for a generation of digital natives.
Interestingly, the job that attracted the most popularity from Gen Z was Pediatric nurse practitioner, the only healthcare role that saw high interest from the new generation of job seekers. Nurse practitioners share many of the same responsibilities as physicians, including the ability to diagnose conditions, prescribe medication and make referrals. Yet, unlike doctors, they can begin practicing after completing their Masters and training. With a shortage of physicians and the need for improved access to healthcare services, careers for nurse practitioners have seen a steady rise in recent years.
Finance, science and legal jobs still make a good showing
In an increasingly interconnected world, it’s no surprise that business, marketing and finance roles hold top spots on our list. Junior marketing associate comes in at number two while social media roles double-up on our list.
Aside from the tech and media-related jobs, a few more traditional roles showed up on the list, namely Actuary coming in third, Paralegal in seventh and Laboratory analyst in ninth, all of which are in demand and offer plenty of career opportunities. Actuaries play an essential role in shaping public and private finance, which taps in to Gen Z’ search for meaning and impact in their jobs. Similar to a nurse practitioner, a paralegal can offer a variety of legal services including minor criminal matters that allows customers to seek expertise without the high cost of hiring a lawyer.
Many of the jobs preferred by Gen Zers are entry level or require minimal university education, underlying the generation’s keen desire to enter the workforce to achieve their dreams, such as home ownership.
It will be interesting to see how Gen Z’s career interests develop over time as they gain education and experience. They may try to learn from millennials, many of whom used higher education as a way to escape the fledgling job market during and after the Great Recession. However, seeing the millennial generation compound their debt, Gen Zers may be motivated to avoid longer studies and enter the job market faster.
Time will tell if Gen Z’s tech expertise continues to drive them toward tech jobs. When asked, “Which of the following do you currently use and foresee using five years from now?” fewer Gen Zers than millennials predicted future use of every tech device or tool (including text messaging and cloud sharing) except social media. Additionnaly 37 percent of Gen Zers say they are concerned that technology is weakening their interpersonal relationships and skills.
For employers, it’s good to think of Gen Z as a mix of practicality and idealism. The Gen Z practical side wants stability and a well-paying job, while the idealist side prioritizes an empowering work culture and companies that promote equality. As more of Gen Z enters the workforce, we will keep our eyes on how they are shaping the future of work.
Indeed’s analytics team crunched the numbers on Gen Zers between the age of 18-23 compared to everyone else during the first half of 2019. We also calculated a “popularity index” to show how much more frequently this group clicks on certain full-time job postings compared to all other job seekers.
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