Talkin’ about their generation

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    Talkin’ about their generation

    With access to so much technology from an early age, what does the future hold for Generation Z? In our spring 2019 edition of Equinox, we took a closer look at the infamous ‘Gen-Z’.

    With access to so much technology from an early age, what does the future hold for Generation Z? In our spring 2019 edition of Equinox, we took a closer look at the infamous ‘Gen-Z’. 

    Click here to read the full version of this edition of Equinox. 

    Throughout history, people have been slow and even scared to use new technology. When the phone was invented in 1876, preachers warned phone lines would be used by evil spirits. After the first railway was created, doctors warned the human body wasn’t supposed to travel at more than 30mph. And the fear around Y2K had many worrying the new millennium would bring back the dark ages.  

    Now, nearly two decades on, technology is extensively used within everyday life. Ecommerce has changed how we consume goods and services, social media means we are now more connected than ever and with smartphones becoming widely owned, there are almost endless opportunities at everybody’s fingertips.    

    This brings us to Generation Z. 

    Generation Z stands apart as the generation that has grown up with, and is therefore automatically accustomed to, all this technology that has defined the modern age. Generation Z doesn’t remember a time before the internet or the frustrations of dial-up. Generation Z has grown up with a smartphone in hand and boundless information just a few taps away.  

    So, who are Generation Z? And how are they different to millennials? Well, there are a lot of different labels but the table below could provide some clarification. Millennials were typically born between 1980 and 1994 and, confusingly, can also be known as “Generation Y” or “Gen Next”. Generation Z follows millennials with births ranging from 1995 to 2012, so as of time of writing, the oldest Generation Z member you’ll come across is 24-years-old. And anyone younger than this is known as Generation Alpha (we’ll cover them in a couple of decades’ time when they’re confusing Generation Z…!).  

    Aside from their age band, what else makes Generation Z different? Looking past the clichés of smashed avocado on sourdough toast and “smartphone zombies”, in 2018 a survey by IPSOS Mori came to some surprising conclusions around this generation. 

    The findings are initially quite positive. Compared to millennials when they were the same age, members of Generation Z are nearly twice as trusting of other people (in 2017 61% of survey respondents said they would naturally trust someone compared to 36% in 2002). This corresponds to a shift towards higher social activism, with nearly 50% of 14 to 16-year-olds saying they had given their time to help in the community over the past two years. These idealistic traits also cross over into their spending habits, with 25% of UK schoolchildren saying they had avoided certain products because of the conditions under which they were prepared (compared to 19% of millennials at the same age).  

    One of the other distinctions between Generation Z and millennials is that the former has grown up with an incredible amount of interaction with technology and media that previous generations came to much later in life. And this has had an impact on the way they access and interpret information. For one, among Generation Z there has been a huge drop in trust of online news sites since 2010. The same 2018 IPSOS Mori survey found only 50% of 12 to 15-year-olds believed most or all of what they saw on news websites and apps – compared to 87% of children the same age in 2010. A curious contradiction is emerging here; this is a generation that is more likely to trust each other but not traditional sources of information. Furthermore, the fact that more schoolchildren are willing to avoid certain products shows this generation is more discerning of corporate practices than before.  

    In the future, Generation Z may approach the workplace differently as well. Starting with higher education, universities – with increasingly high tuition fees – may not be the most popular path into the workplace (last year alone saw a 2% dip in university applications across the UK). With higher education proving less attractive, tomorrow’s workforce may establish their own career paths. For instance, the Genius Network – a global organisation of entrepreneurs centred around sharing ideas at seminars and workshops – recently held a panel debate of four successful businesspeople all from Generation Z. These entrepreneurs, aged between 17 and 21, told the audience how they had all strived to make their own careers and avoid well-trodden paths. One of the panellists, 17-year-old marketing specialist Connor Blakley, said: “If you’re zigging and zagging within the same confines of all the same things that everyone did before, you’re going to get the same results.”  

    And in terms of the opportunities open to Generation Z, it is natural that they will start to think outside the box when it comes to their futures. For instance, in recent years the business landscape in the UK has undergone severe change with several sectors facing significant headwinds (such as retail) and Brexit is casting a shadow of uncertainty over several industries. The next few years could see new career paths open up, with more people entering the job market at a younger age and non-traditional sectors attracting more applicants.  

    Whatever happens, one day Generation Z will be in charge, becoming world leaders, heading up corporations and dictating the cultural tone in society. But what kind of world will they inherit? Turn back to page four where we try to answer this question! 

    Which generation are you? 

    (*age if still alive today) source 

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