Understanding Gen Z Students

Understanding Gen Z Students – Who are they and what do they want?

The copious amount written on Gen Z is only rivalled by the number of discussions the Millenials have faced! And they aren’t even out of college yet! So, here we are adding our bit – but not with a condescending tone of ‘How to deal with them’ but focusing it on their thoughts and needs to make it more easy for us oldies to understand them.

So what is Generation Z?

Simply put, Generation Z or Gen Z comprises people born after 1997. It is our youngest generation, and the oldest amongst them are just joining the workforce and colleges.

Like every generation, Gen Z too has many characteristics that are uniquely their own. Here’s a look at some of the main features that are associated with them –

Technology defines a lot of what they do 

Gen-Zers are the true digital natives. Even the oldest of them have never been without the Internet – and we are not talking about dial-up modems and giant cell phones! This generation has not seen the evolution of mobile or Internet technologies or ever done without them – for them, these technologies are not luxuries they are necessities.

Addicted to Social Media

With technology comes social media, and as comfortable denizens of the virtual world – Gen-Zers are living a vast amount of their lives online. Unlike older generations, they came into social media really early and have used this as a benchmark for relationships and socializing.

Informed on a global scale

Naturally, all this exposure to the Internet and social platforms, ensures extremely wide access to information – not just about what’s happening in their towns or countries, but also on the other sides of the world. 

Highly Independent

Along with access to information comes the ability to form opinions and to voice them. This translates into youngsters that are mature beyond their years and dabble in activities that their older counterparts reached much later in life. This need for independence and autonomy is reflected in the strong entrepreneurial abilities demonstrated by the Gen-Zers.

What matters most to Gen Z?

Deloitte conducted a survey called the Global Millennial Survey 2019, which surveyed 13,416 millennials across 42 countries and territories, and 3,009 members of Gen Z from 10 countries, including India, the US, the UK, China, and Japan. According to the survey the top three priorities or ambitions of Gen-Zers are –

In India, Gen-Zers put earning a high salary as one of their top ambitions with 68% of participants opting for it (globally this falls to 58%).

57% of both age groups surveyed put travel and seeing the world on top when asked about their priorities – in India, this percentage was even higher as 60% of the Gen-Zers prioritised travelling.

The priority that came a close third was making a positive impact on society or community, and here again Indian Gen-Zers (with 58% positive reactions) felt more strongly about helping others – globally 47% of Gen Zers prioritised helping their community.

What does Gen-Z want from educational institutions and their workplace?

 

From Educational Institutions

Born in the age of the matured Internet and digital technology, Gen Z students expect their classrooms to keep up. As a generation that lives with an information overload they want learning to be visual and engaging – textbooks are being shunned in favour of video tutorials, and they are demanding that old educational systems change to keep pace with their technological needs.

Students are also looking for more personalised learning experiences. Online learning has made that possible, and they desire more control over what they learn, how they learn, and when they learn.

They lead busy, multitasking lives and want education to be useful and to the point. With access to information, they are impatient with an education that is slow and narrow in scope and wants teachers who can go beyond the basic and teach life skills and guide them through the confusing array of the information available online.

From Work

Yes, money, security, and stability are essential, but Gen-Zers want more. They are willing to get paid less if the work is more meaningful.  The focus is on changing the world and doing good, and they are most satisfied if they get work that allows them to make an impact.

Gen-Zers are also highly entrepreneurial. They see professional careers becoming less stable and are open to taking risks and following their passions. Job opportunities where they learn and grow are perceived as highly desirable to most students emerging into the workplace.

Most Gen-Zers also value technology and want to work around it. A research conducted by Dell Technologies in 2018 polled 12,000 members of Gen Z from countries including Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, and New Zealand and found that 97% believe technological literacy matters, and 80% want to work with cutting-edge technologies.

Conclusion

Till now, everyone was focused on the millennials, but as they grow older, the attention has shifted to the next generation. Millennials, to some extent, got bogged down with stereotypes – the general feeling was that they had to be ‘handled’ or that they were ‘difficult’ or ‘spoilt.’  This approach wasn’t constructive for anyone – the millennials, the educators, or the companies.

Lets us not go down that road again – we need to move beyond superficial stereotypes to understand that every generation is a product of its circumstances and upbringing, but ultimately what they want is not such different people before them – the opportunity to live a decent life!