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Young Kiwis prepared for the future of the workforce - MYOB study

03 Dec 2019

New Zealand’s next generation of the workforce is prepared for the gig economy and ready for whatever disruption comes its way, according to a new report from MYOB.

The report quizzed 500 Kiwis from ‘Generation Z’, who are described for the purposes of the study as being aged between 18-24, on everything from education, the modern workplace, and what they expect to change over the next decade.

The study found that two thirds of Kiwis believe their tertiary education has set them up well for the workforce, and 75% say they’re using skills they learned in their current role.

Over three quarters of our Gen Z respondents think it is important or extremely important to get a tertiary qualification in order to gain employment. However, around 60% think they’ll need to keep training in order to stay competitive and keep their jobs secure, which is likely a valid assessment,” adds MYOB head of employee services Felicity Brown.

But finding work after study continues to be a problem for almost half of respondents, the report says, and Gen Z is still concerned about making ends meet.

Those surveyed also want their own flexibility, with 35% supplementing their current work with a second job or ‘side-hustle’.

According to the report, 65% are making enough to live on – although there’s no indication about how much they’ll need for their future.

“They are also dealing with several unique concerns – such as climate change, the housing crisis and the rise of global extremism – that shape the way they think about the future, and in particular how that will affect their work,” says Brown.

Gen Z respondents are concerned about job security – 30% acknowledge their current role as being part of the gig economy, where they work to variable hours based on the needs of their employer.

Since entering the workforce, respondents have already seen the start of significant changes to the patterns of work. They recognise the move towards greater workplace flexibility (36%) and the adoption of AI and automation (25%) are the biggest changes that they have seen in the workplace in the past five years.

Despite seeing the adoption of AI, automation and robotics as having the greatest impact on the workplace in the next decade (44%), most expect their current role to exist unchanged (44%) or be only slightly changed (44%) in the future. Just 9% thought their role would cease to exist within a decade, because it would be replaced by automation (50%) or the industry would cease to exist (40%).

“While expecting your current role to remain unchanged may seem overly optimistic – and in reality may be different to what will happen – this demonstrated optimism and increasing awareness of the importance of soft skills can only be a good thing for this emerging workforce generation,” says Brown.

As technology and AI become more capable of doing the heavy lifting in the workplace, young people are putting a greater emphasis on their social and creative skills. Half (50%) of people aged 18 to 24 think that having soft skills will help support their future career, over hard skills like data analysis (41%).

“Millennials (Gen Z and Y) will soon make up the majority of the workforce by the end of 2020 and employers and colleagues alike have much to learn from this generation,” says Brown.

She says these generations are looking for more understanding because people aged over 35 may not appreciate the challenges that they will face in the future.

“They are totally immersed in the digital economy, open to doing new things and incredibly resilient when it comes to facing some of the world’s biggest challenges – and wanting to make positive changes that will improve the lives of people around the world,” concludes Brown.