Coming Soon to Your Office: Gen Z

Rick Wartzman
Rick Wartzman

In his latest online column for Time magazine, Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman writes about a new study on Gen Z—those 17 years old and younger.

Among the trends highlighted in the analysis—which was produced by the Intelligence Group, a division of the Creative Artists Agency, with an assist from the early-career networking site Intern Sushi—is that members of Gen Z are “bent on accumulating real-world experience, even if this means foregoing a part of their formal education,” Wartzman explains.

In 2010, he notes, 71% of millennial teens considered earning an advanced degree as one of their life goals. By 2013, that number had fallen to 64% for Gen Z teens.

Also telling, says Wartzman: Fifty percent of Gen Y teens in 2010 said they wished they had a hobby that would turn into a full-time job. Among Gen Z teens, that has soared to 76%.

“This inclination to dive quickly into a work setting, and spend less time in the classroom as well as on frivolous outside pursuits, makes perfect sense in the wake of endless stories about unemployed and underemployed college grads, and anxiety over accumulating mountains of student-loan debt,” Wartzman writes.

Peter Drucker, Wartzman adds, “surely wouldn’t have advocated that people get less education at a time when knowledge has become our most vital resource. . . . Yet what form someone’s ongoing education might take isn’t at all a given.”

As Drucker wrote, “In the knowledge society, clearly, more and more knowledge, and especially advanced knowledge, will be acquired well past the age of formal schooling and increasingly, perhaps, through educational processes that do not center on the traditional school.”

“For employers hoping one day to recruit and retain the cream of Gen Z,” Wartzman concludes, “a real chance exists to develop a whole new model of lifelong learning—a combination of hands-on experience, training and mentoring.”