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11 Aug 2021

Econ Digest

Understand What Makes a “Gen Z” First Jobber

  • Gen Z started to enter the workplace in 2020 as first jobbers
  • Gen Z are very tech-savvy, know their worth, and believe in information-backed things.
  • The current education system is becoming less responsive to the needs of Gen Z, while online media and short courses are becoming popular.
  • High salaries alone will not attract Gen Z. Work atmosphere and flexibility are the keys to retaining a Gen Z workforce and to growing an organization’s sustainably together.
  • The education sector should adapt its curriculum to meet the needs of Gen Z, while institutions should improve the way they work in terms of work atmosphere and flexibility.
  • Other departments, such as marketing, must also be prepared to respond to the different behaviors of Gen Z.

         Gen Z started entering the workforce in 2020
         The year 2020 was the first year that the Gen Z population entered the workforce and would go on to become a mainstay of the nation’s workforce in the future. The personalities, work attitudes and lifestyle of the Gen Z population are very different from those of the previous generation. For this reason, operators or employers should study and understand the various behaviors of their employees to ensure the sustainable development of their organization during the generational transition.

         Gen Z are very tech-savvy, know their worth, and believe in information-backed things
         Gen Z is defined as those born between 1995-2009 and are currently between the ages of 12-26, making up about a fifth of Thailand’s total population (19% of Thailand’s total population). This group grew up in an era in which access to amenities was generally easy; they are very tech-savvy, can learn quickly, know their worth, value treating everyone equally (without discrimination), and do not believe in seniority but rather believe in information-backed things. The majority of them have better family backgrounds than the previous generation, and differences in beliefs and life behaviors have had different impacts on the way Gen Z works.

         Four-year college education has become less responsive to Gen Z job demand, while online media and short-term professional programs have grown in popularity
         The differences between Gen Z and other generations begin in the realm of education. When considering the number of Gen Z first year student of college age, the number of students enrolled in higher education has declined. Although this is partly due to a decline in overall population, calculating the share excluding this population decline reveals that the share of those receiving higher education decreased from 10.45% in 2015 to 9.16% in 2020. This is because Gen Z’ educational values began to change, i.e., they believe that higher education does not meet the demands to achieve employability, feel that four years of college is too long, and view the expenses involved in further education as not being cost-effective compared to the benefits received. This trend has also been occurring in the United States; According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, college enrollment in the U.S. fell by 11% between 2011 and 2020, due to open educational media such as foreign online courses and Youtube being more in line with the needs of the new generation. In addition, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the trend of online education.

         High salaries alone are no longer attractive to Gen Z, as work atmosphere and flexibility are key to retaining a Gen Z workforce for sustainable development within the organization
         In terms of employment, many surveys show that Gen Z does not feel as much affiliation with organizations as other generations. High pay alone does not attract Gen Z to work harder, and as such, there must be other enticing factors such as a desirable workplace and commuting time. Furthermore, Gen Z demand more flexibility and better work-life balance, and tend to have more aspirations of wanting to start a business. In addition, Gen Z have grown up in an era of advanced technology in which many new careers have emerged, such as YouTube creator (YouTubers) and video blogger (Vlogger) or jobs related to emerging technologies (e-sports operator, cybersecurity engineer). This shows that career opportunities and choices for Gen Z have increased substantially, so their tolerance for dissatisfaction with their jobs tends to decline, and they are willing to switch jobs in a short period of time. Data from human resource development researchers and experts shows that the resignation rate of Thais is usually about 10%, but increased to 12-15% after Gen Z entered the workforce. However, Gen Z is a fast-learning group that is ready to change with their organization, so organizations must learn how to retain them and create a work environment where they can co-exist and drive the organization forward despite the generation gap.

         Gen Z will begin to play an increasingly important role, so the education sector should adapt its curriculum to meet demand, while organizations should improve their workplace conditions and atmosphere to address the generation gap
         Gen Z will play an important role in society in the coming years, prompting all sectors to adapt. As such, the education sector must design curriculums and adjust academic structures to better meet the needs of the labor market with more specialized short-term courses. In addition, it is important to train students to gain experience or develop leadership and various vital skills to meet the demands of the workplace. At the same time, organizations should start to adjust their work practices to be more flexible towards working hours. Some organizations have already reduced the work week to four days, and have changed their workplace to a shared workplace to better fit current lifestyle trends. Many organizations have made further adjustments after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year; Moreover, organizations with different thinking and work behavior characteristics must have good management mechanisms, such as learning from each other’s strengths and supporting each other, and not placing emphasis on age or seniority.
         Other departments, such as marketing, must also be prepared to deal with the different behaviors of Gen Z
         In addition to the education sector and work organizations, other sectors such as marketing must also adapt to the changing behavior of Gen Z. For example, when using online media, it is necessary to understand which platform is better suited to reaching Gen Z; for instance, survey results show that the proportion of Gen Z using Facebook is declining. In general, development and change are things that organizations and all of us must be prepared to deal with, regardless of the era or generation.

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