Gen Z: Tapping Their Potential with Fr James Grant Mission Engage Program for Youth Unemployment

Gen Z: Tapping Their Talent

They’re mobile, business savvy, and likely to have 17 job changes over five careers in their lifetime, making Generation Z possibly the most knowledgeable and flexible employee cohort to enter the workforce to date.

So how do you find and retain talent in a young generation that’s not afraid to switch it up when the situation doesn’t suit?

Here are the top tips for tapping (and retaining) the talent of Gen Z…

Flexibility yet security

Yes, technology has allowed this generation access to a mobile workforce, where freelancing is a viable career path, but that flexibility doesn’t mean they embrace a lack of security.

Busy at Work says there’s a misconception “that all young people want to be able to create their own schedules; that they’re constantly ready to up and leave a job; and that they prefer casual work to full time. But these perceptions aren’t necessarily true”.

“Research has shown that at age 20 – 21, 86% of young people ranked job security as highly important. And at 26 – 27 that figure rose to 95%. Most young people are actually looking for a stable career.”


As they enter the workforce, Gen Z joins us as the most “switched on” group in history. This is the generation that grew up with the internet, came of age with social media and can’t remember life before the mobile phone.

That makes communication imperative, and not in the form of corporate memos, policy folders and reams of procedural material.

Forbes states the average attention span of a Gen Z is just eight seconds, and they’re likely to juggle up to five screens at once.

Meanwhile, a survey of 4000 people by LivePerson found 65% of 18-35-year-olds communicate more digitally than they do in person every day, and Pew Research Center found mobile phone owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day.

The upshot is, communication with Gen Z needs to be short, sweet, to the point and electronic.

Ongoing education

Automation will play an increasing role in Gen Z’s employment opportunities and limitations throughout their career.

A Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) report on the Future of Work explains: “…around 70% of young Australians are getting their first job in roles that will either look very different or be completely lost in the next 10 to 15 years due to automation”.

“Nearly 60% of Australian students (70% in VET) are currently studying or training for occupations where at least two-thirds of jobs will be automated. Over 50% of jobs will require significant digital skills.”

Constant reskilling of this generation of workers will be a requirement throughout their future career, and the business that allows them to undertake this in the workplace has a better chance of retaining young, experienced employees.

Rewards and incentives

Generation Z is unlikely to enjoy a retirement party, gold watch and fond send-off after 50 years’ service in a company.

Instead, the rewards that will entice them to stay with employers for an average of three years include short-term goals, recognition, challenge, accomplishment, and advancement.

Couple that with a strong workplace environment, and a corporate culture that includes a social ethos, and this generation will reward an employer with extended loyalty.

A way in

Importantly, this generation is looking for a way into the workplace. FYA explains entry-level positions are rapidly disappearing and youth unemployment has increased as a result.

“Around Australia, nearly one in three young people are currently unemployed or underemployed. On top of this staggering underutilization of our young talent, around one in seven young people who are not studying have stepped out entirely from the labour force and don’t appear in the unemployment figures.

“For those who are working (and not studying), the work is often part-time. More than one in three 15-19-year-olds (39%) who are not studying and one in four 20-24-year-olds (26%) are in part-time work.”

Offering young people programs and initiatives that open the door to the workplace allows them to step into a landscape that will change and evolve rapidly over the coming years.

But given access to the workplace, they’re the best-positioned generation to adapt to the technology, automation and fast-paced evolution ahead.

About us

The Father James Grant Foundation offers willing young job seekers four-week programs aimed at providing the workplace and life skills they need to find a job. To learn more about our Mission Engage Programs and the renowned businesses we work with, see here.

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