Gen Z is turning away from the idea of a traditional education path, according to Fast Company.
A recent study by ECMC group found that only 51% of Gen Z teens are interested in pursuing a four-year degree as of January 2022, which is down from 71% in May 2020. There was also a 6.6% decline in total undergraduate enrollment between fall 2019 and fall 2021.
Juliana Stancampiano, CEO of Oxygen, which provides learning services to companies like Microsoft, attributes this trend to the generation’s understanding “our flawed system with staggeringly high prices for high education and is looking for ways to earn an income and advance their careers without burdensome debt.”
“Gen Z seems to have more in common with their grandparents who were more focused on technical skills that allowed them stable careers in trades, and less in common with their parents’ generation, who had low-cost access to four-year degrees and general education programs,” she wrote, citing a recent study showing 56% of Gen Z teens believe a skills-based education makes more sense in today’s world.
Gen Z also has a hunger to keep learning to advance their careers, a mindset driven by the recognition that their job is constantly changing, according to Stancampiano.
“In fact, nearly 60% of Gen Zs say they don’t think their job will exist in the same form in 20 years,” she wrote. “This understanding of the rapid change of technology, and their need to stay up-to-date with their skills, is inherent in the Gen Z mindset. They must continue to learn or their skills will become obsolete.”
To recruit, hire and retain Gen Z employees, companies must adapt or risk losing talent, she said, noting this could include creating programs to teach and engage Gen Z to keep up with their need for progress. Additionally, they must meet Gen Z where they are, on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
“This means leaders must step out of their comfort zones, leaving behind email and highly-polished meetings,” she said. They have to embrace DMs, collaborative tech platforms, and videos. Gen Z demands authentic communication: real-life, human, and deeply engaging interactions. And don’t forget quick paced. If companies don’t evolve now, Gen Zs will leave them in the dust.”