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The Rise of Gen Z – Will Pursuing Passions Cause a Skills Shortage?

30/03/2016
Love what you do and do what you love are words we see so frequently, from memes on social media to slogan branded coffee mugs and notepads. Phrases like “find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life” are commonplace, promoting a drive of a career for love over career for status. The question is, what does this shift in the way we think about work mean for the future marketplace? As we all pursue our passions (which in reality are the more ‘fun’ industries) what are the consequences for those industries left behind?

How many of you, if asked the question ‘what job would you do if money was no object’ would answer ‘the job I am currently in’? Chances are, very few. If we all went off to pursue a career in our passion tomorrow, which industries would be hardest hit? A question we need to start asking, particularly as Generation Z start penetrating the marketplace. These newcomers to the workforce are ones driven by passion, change, technology and are fuelled by a career for enjoyment over a profession for life. Whilst many Gen Z’s today are still at school level age, within a decade they will account for as much as 10% of the workforce. Comprising of over 2 billion people globally, Gen Z are the future of our workplace.

We all know that the children of today affect the future of tomorrow, but do we know what this means for the jobs of today? Predictions suggest approx 65% of children entering school today will work in jobs that today do not exist. Furthermore, some of the top in-demand jobs today were not around 10 – 15 years ago. We have already experienced a shift through the generations in the workforce and this change will further continue. An evolving landscape of in-demand jobs will inevitably lead to the decline or skills shortages in certain industries. The question is which ones?

If we look at the characteristics of Gen Z, they are a generation born into a world of sophisticated and established technology. With a wealth of digital information at their fingertips, they are a generation all about growth and improvement, expanding and evolving their knowledgebase. Predictions suggest Gen Z will be inspired by careers involving the environment, society, medical advancement and technology. They are characterised by their desire to help and change the ways of the world and are global thinkers. Gen Z are all about enjoyment, fulfilment, flexibility and variety and are likely to be in search of work/life balance and pursuing their passions.

This notion of following your hearts’ desire is not limited to Gen Z. With the rise of social media we are all living in a digital era with daily influences and soundbites of greener grass on the other side. Minimalism is trending heavily amongst Gen Y where the concept of less is more is driving a movement of having less means doing and seeing more. Pursuing passions over a career/wealth are already infiltrating the wider generations, a movement that may further impact the industry demographics of the future.

As Traditionalists, the generation of hard work, loyalty and commitment almost disappear from the workplace, so too does the notion of work being a privilege. Traditionalists were raised during lean times, believing that hard work and long hours were the key to a better way of life. Traditionalists value security, commitment and consistency. Fast forward to Gen Z and we have a generation who value flexibility, change and a work/life balance as a means to a better way of life. At opposite ends of the current workforce we have opposing values and beliefs.

The workforce landscape changes faster than we think. With each departing generation a new one connects, bringing with it a new set of skills, strengths and mindsets. The shift in the perceived value of employment through the generations inevitably leads to a change in in-demand jobs and the favourable industries to work in. As we look ahead to the jobs of the future, we must take stock of tomorrow’s available resources for the jobs of today.

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