PREPARING the next generation for the workforce will require a huge shift in education and culture, according to a leading social researcher.
“Our world is changing, our work is changing, and therefore our approach needs changing,” Ashley Fell has told Queensland’s Catholic secondary school principals meeting in Townsville.
Young Australians – Gen Z’s, aged between 10 and 24 – and now attending school will have very different expectations and attitudes about the work they want to do, and how they do it.
Tumultuous years ahead
“It’s predicted they will have up to 18 jobs across six careers in their lifetime,” Ms Fell, who is the communications team leader at the social research firm, McCrindle, said.
“It’s a fascinating shift happening in the workforce.”
She said there would be huge growth in demand for enterprising skills; digital skills, critical thinking, creativity and presentations skills.
“It leads someone who is an employer to ask ‘why should I invest money and time to train someone if they are just going to leave every two years or less’.
“The response to that is ‘what if you don’t train them and they stay’?”
Understanding and responding to the needs and concerns of Gen Z’s will become increasingly crucial – by 2030 they will make up 34 per cent of the workforce.
A new kind of boss
A “boss” who operates by command and control will not survive in the future workplace.
Gen Z’s will be more likely to respect a workplace “leader” who promotes a culture of collaboration and contribution.
“We’ve seen that Australians have lost trust with many institutions and organisations and so leaders will succeed who can build trust in their teams and lead with ‘realness’ in our school communities and our different stakeholders from parents to students to staff,” she said.
Ms Fell said there was a need to remain “relevant” when engaging Gen Z’s.
“They tend to speak their own language – we call it slanguage. The idea is they are bringing text communication to verbal communication,” she said.
“Gen Z’s have whole new meanings for different words in different spheres of life – so much so that if we are not remaining relevant with the changes in language our messaging can become irrelevant.”
They will be more likely to learn visually by watching Youtube, rather than reading or even engaging with Facebook.
A typical response to being forced to read a story in a book, journal or even a newspaper article might be a text reply TL;DR (which translated means too long; didn’t read).
At school, the top issues of concern for Gen Z’s are coping with stress, mental health, study problems and body image.
Gen Z’s fear not living comfortable and fulfilling lives. They also fear being stuck in a job that they don’t enjoy, not making a difference in their own life and never being able to buy their own home.
For the future of Australia they rate their top three concerns as climate change (64 per cent), mental health (60 per cent) and unemployment (54 per cent).