Employer Forum: School leaver engagement and programmes – Gen Z

Our second employer forum of the year took place on 16th June, focussing on Gen Z and the key characteristics of this generation in the context of work. Our April 2022 employer survey showed that employers are increasingly looking to embed school leaver programmes in their businesses. These employers have typically only recruited from the graduate market. So, understanding the school leaver population is timely.

Gen Z at work

Employer Forum: School leaver engagement and programmes – Gen Z

Our second employer forum of the year took place on 16th June, focussing on Gen Z and the key characteristics of this generation in the context of work. Our April 2022 employer survey showed that employers are increasingly looking to embed school leaver programmes in their businesses. These employers have typically only recruited from the graduate market. So, understanding the school leaver population is timely.

Jamie Lyon from the ACCA’s research team presented some of the key insights of the ACCA’s 2021 global Gen Z study. We also heard from Felix Mitchell from Instant Impact, who covered how to adapt recruitment strategies to appeal to Gen Z and what methods can be used to retain this group.

Who are Gen Z?

Gen Z are individuals born 1995 to 2010 who are, therefore, 12 to 27 years old. They will soon make up 20% of the workforce so it’s clear to see why we need to consider their needs and aspirations as we look to recruit future roles in business.

The discussion looked at 5 key areas:

(1) What is going to frame the future careers of Gen Z?

  • Technology plays a big part in the lives of this generation. It is a fact that technology will fundamentally transform the economy. Jobs will change and who does the jobs of the future and how we do them will also change. Businesses will need to adapt.
  • Life expectancy for this generation is much higher so they will be in the workforce for a long time.
  • The Covid pandemic has brought about a lot of uncertainty and we do not yet know the long-term impacts on work. However, we do know that working practices have changed significantly as have expectations. Well-being and mental health play a bigger part in work-life than it has previously. Businesses must consider this.
  • Global economic challenges are likely to impact recruitment and retention across all sectors. We are experiencing the highest interest rate increase since 1994. Alongside high inflation.

(2) Characteristics of Gen Z – What do employers see and what are the challenges of this generation entering the workplace?

  • Talent – smart, creative, hardworking, naturally inquisitive & entrepreneurial
  • Technology – digitally savvy, well connected, are bringing tech to the workplace
  • Leadership and hierarchy – want to be heard, interested in leaders and not a hierarchy, want impact and to shape an organisation’s future, peer influence huge
  • Learning – quick learners, very ‘visual’, social media is key
  • Careers – want to progress fast, seek promotions
  • What they value in employers – career opportunities, rewards, work/life balance

(3) What attracts this group to the finance profession?

Finance is a desirable profession for Gen Z due to the longer-term prospects it offers. There is clear opportunity from the start and throughout for skills development through qualifications and clear progression pathways into senior leadership positions. Most significantly, accountancy qualifications are seen to be highly portable with accountancy being considered to be a fantastic stepping stone into entrepreneurship. Accountancy offers a variety of different careers within a huge range of sectors.

(4) What strategies can employers use to engage with Gen Z?

As a technologically driven generation, a quick win for employers is to use social media to target possible candidates. Gen Z are looking for employers who make them feel valued. They want to feel that their role has a purpose in the wider organisation. They want to collaborate with business leaders and senior employees.

Our discussion expanded further on the above and looked specifically at recruitment in particular attraction and retention led by Felix Mitchell.
Employer brand was our starting point. Felix outlined the key employer value propositions (EVP’s) that Gen Z are looking for:

  • Work-life balance
  • Remuneration
  • Learning & development opportunities

(5) How are Gen Z finding employers and how can employers attract them?

Gen Z are very likely to use sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor prior to applying for jobs to get a better understanding of the company from the eyes of its employees. It’s advisable that businesses use these sites to promote themselves in a positive light. Gen Z want to hear real experiences of working somewhere. Video testimonials on your business’s website are a great way to showcase what it’s like to work at your business. Gen Z want to see how their career will be shaped long term. Businesses that are able to show possible career trajectories will appeal to this generation. In addition, those offering qualifications and opportunities for development will also appeal. They want to be able to learn from senior managers, so giving Gen Z employees opportunities to collaborate with seniors is recommended.

During recruitment, businesses should see their assessments and onboarding processes as an extension of their employer’s brand and therefore as another way to attract candidates. Keeping in mind that job seekers are applying to more than one job at a time, it’s crucial that businesses stand out. This can include using skilled interviewers, being inclusive, and using good communication. This is especially important when communicating with unsuccessful candidates. Gen Z values feedback and respect and therefore, it’s important that employers give them this. The onboarding of new candidates and their induction form the first part of their employee experience, so it’s absolutely crucial that it’s memorable and valuable.

Read the Gen Z report in full today.

Read the full report

Our next employer forum will focus on trainee wellbeing in the finance sector. If this is something you think would benefit your business, please let us know via FI Client Support (ClientSupport@firstintuition.co.uk) and we can share further details with you.

Alternatively, to continue learning from our exclusive news and articles, head to FI Hub.

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