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The New Workforce: Education and Generation Z

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

College students throwing graduation caps into the air.

Every generation is unique, shaped by its society, its experiences, its place in history, and the generations that precede it. And, in turn, it shapes the world, communities, and workplaces around it. And so it is with the up-and-coming Generation Z.

Though still relatively young, this generation is already demonstrating wholly unique characteristics that differentiate it from previous generations. More to the point, it will undeniably bring change to the workplace as we currently know it.

We’ve previously explored the characteristics, values, and motivators that make this generation stand out. Now, let’s examine the Gen Z perspective on education: what kind of education they typically seek, the driving forces behind their educational choices, and how the resulting educational trends may affect the workplace.

Educational Drivers

Gen Zs, in general, take education seriously, especially post-high school education. Why? This drive seems to find its roots in the home. Gen Zs by-and-large are more likely than previous generations to live with a parent or parents who attended college. In fact, it’s estimated that 43% of Gen Zs live in a home where at least one parent has earned a Bachelor’s degree. Being born into and raised by a family where secondary and advanced education is valued seems to be a powerful motivator in Generation Z’s pursuit of education.

Degrees Obtained

Gen Zs have an intense drive to obtain and harness the benefits of an advanced education. In fact, Time recently discovered that 64% of Gen Zs consider earning an advanced degree as one of their primary lifetime goals. This means that while Bachelor and Master’s degrees are important to preceding generations, they are even more sought after by Gen Zs. According to recent College Advisor research, Gen Zs are primarily pursuing degrees in Business Administration, Nursing, Engineering, and Computer Science.

Types of Education Pursued

Generation Z is still a relatively young generation, with a majority in or just exiting high school. Still, Gen Zs are already outpacing past generations in education, with 50% of Gen Z’s predicted to be university-educated as compared to 33% of millennials and 25% of Gen X. The traditional four-year college is still the most favored form of post-high school education, with nearly 51% of Gen Z high school students hoping to attend. For Gen Z, attending a four-year university is essential.

Impacting the Workforce

Gen Z seems intent on making advanced education a greater priority than its predecessors. With more Gen Zs attending or hoping to attend universities than any past generation, we wonder: how will they impact the workforce?

There are, of course, several benefits to having a well educated workforce, like more highly-skilled employees, more innovation and ideation, and, subsequently, increasing profits. In fact, one survey found that higher education among employees influenced an employer’s ability to accomplish organizational goals, including lowering employee turnover, increasing customer satisfaction, improving employee engagement and productivity, and an uptick in profits.

An Employer’s Must-Have

Because the workplace is a complex, multi-generational ecosystem, it’s crucial for an organization to learn and understand the characteristics unique to Gen Z in order to maintain intra-office harmony. And, those employers who make the effort to understand this new generation and are more likely to cultivate a greater harmony – and productivity – in the workplace.

To that end, we’ve crafted Generation Z: An Employer’s Primer to help business leaders, like you, get to know this powerful new workforce. What’s more, this primer is on us.

The future of the workplace will be shaped by this up-and-coming generation – sooner or later. Organizations that invest in understanding Gen Z and its values now may find themselves better able to grow and thrive in the future. Those that don’t, however, may find themselves sidelined and even struggling to survive.

© 2023 The Growth Group, LLC - All rights reserved.

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