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Peter Remon

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What do GenZ want from their education and career?


Generation Z is a tech-savvy, entrepreneurial generation. They have grown up with smartphones, social media, and access to information at their fingertips; personalisation to the most immediate level. Interestingly, what they are looking for in work, is not always the same as what they look for in business education…

Speaking on the change in demands of Gen Z, Nalisha Patel, Regional Director for Europe of the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), highlights the trends they have found through surveys on upcoming applicants, now all Gen Z. Gen Z-ers use and engage more than previous generations with social media and user-generated content; hyper-personalisation is, to say the least, the starting point. And this seeps through into their expectations for general management education, as Gen Z are, more than previous generations, wanting and expecting courses that reflect their interest, goals and professional expectations. It’s not enough for a broad course to be applied to the lives of Gen Z applicants – crucially, it has to be a tailored fit.

Many business schools seek to provide courses made specifically with Gen Z in mind, tailoring the learning to their aspirations. Imperial College Business School is offering a new undergraduate degree, the BSc in Economics, Finance and Data Science, beginning later this year in October. It uniquely aims to equip students with the latest academic training in economics and finance, alongside increased skills training to improve students' abilities in data science and coding capabilities, in order to prepare them for roles in industries such as technology, finance, consulting, and the public sector.

The new undergraduate course represents, for Imperial, a programme that is tailored for Gen Z, designed and created by their academics in various disciplines to complement the advice given by industry officials. This includes a curriculum that students are able to mould with the modules they choose, including societal impact, diversity, sustainability, and career mentorship.

“We live in the age of big data and this has revolutionised the workplace and transformed our way of understanding the world’s complexities” highlights Dr Pedro Rosa Dias, Academic Director of the programme at Imperial. “In developing this programme, the feedback from employers has been clear: we need a new generation of graduates in economics and finance who are able to use data science to guide businesses, public bodies and international organisations in today’s digital economy.”

The programme by Imperial is in-person, and this makes sense; according to GMAC’s recent prospective student survey, Europe has one of the smallest markets for online business education in the world, in contrast to the US where students are much more excited by virtual learning. Crucially, we shouldn’t confuse wanting in-person education with not wanting online teaching to be available – a lot of the time, people still want that hybrid option. This ability to fit their education around their lives is equally as important once they have graduated…

Research by King’s Business School and the Policy Institute at King’s College London found that young people, including but not limited to Gen Z, believe remote working can benefit their career progression. Despite older generations perceiving that being in-person provides more opportunity to scale up their career, almost half of Gen Z and younger participants surveyed felt that working online left them more comfortable to ask questions when they were unsure.

“Even younger employees, often considered to lose out the most from remote working in a professional sense by older age groups, state a strong preference for retaining their hybrid working status going forward”, highlights King’s Business School Lecturer in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour, Amanda Jones. “Employees feel that hybrid working enables them to manage and perform their professional and personal roles in an optimum way while simultaneously achieving life goals, such as living in a preferred location or property."

The study surveyed over 2,000 London-based workers and also discovered that younger people are more likely to volunteer for important tasks when working remotely and enjoy greater control over their work-life balance. Remote working allows the surveyed Gen Z professionals to make their career fit around their lives, in a way personalising their experience with a company. Indeed, most respondents said they would search for a new job if their employer required them to follow an undesirable work pattern.

Crucially, it’s not the ability to work remotely that attracts Gen Z; it is that ability to tailor an experience. A recent survey by GMAC highlighted that in Europe there remains a relatively small market for business schools of Gen Z students who want a fully remote course. Most prefer, unsurprisingly, a hybrid choice with added flexibility.

Gen Z has a strong desire for work-life balance. Post-covid, there is more value placed in utilising personal time for hobbies rather than commuting, and not sacrificing passions for their careers. Four in 10 London workers surveyed in the King’s Business School study who work from home at least one day a week say they are more likely to leave the capital because they have the freedom to, and work commitments no longer force them to stay. And that’s not just the youngest of the sample, but almost 40% of the total 2000 London workers interviewed.

It's clear that Gen Z is a generation that values personalisation and flexibility, both in their education and their careers. They want courses that reflect their interests and goals, and the ability to mould their education to fit their needs. Similarly, they want jobs that fit around their lives, rather than sacrificing their passions for their careers. As we move forward, it's important for educational institutions and employers alike to recognise and adapt to the needs of this tech-savvy and entrepreneurial generation. Who knows what incredible innovations and ideas they'll come up with next?


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