Make Way for Gen Z Workers

Gen Z began entering the workforce just as COVID took over the world. Many put their dreams or aspirations on hold, not knowing what the future would bring. Job offers were rescinded, industries shut down, and 22-year olds had to sign up for unemployment support. What was once a clear future, no longer existed, and Gen Z had to rethink plans overnight. Do they continue with their college education? Do they decide to enroll in college after graduating high school? Are the jobs they once imagined themselves in even reliable anymore? There were countless questions with seemingly few answers.

Since the pandemic started, every industry has had to rethink their way of operating and finding new strategies – to attract and retain employees. For labor trades, including manufacturing, there was a steep decline in workforce in 2020 due to the vast amount of baby boomers retiring, many of whom jump-started the process earlier than planned due to new economic realities and attractive packages.

By 2030, it is estimated that Gen Z will make up one third of the workforce, but even with those new additions to the labor market, there could still be 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs. The demand for manufacturing employees is there, and industry leaders must create a welcoming and promising environment that attracts Gen Z workers and showcases opportunities for their future success.

Time to shift perspectives

The general perception, often misguided, is that Gen Z wants to stay as far as possible from manufacturing. For the perception not to win over reality, it is important to start shifting the misconceptions of the manufacturing industry and other trades. As shown in a recent survey, there’s a huge disparity between Gen Z perceptions and industry realities experienced by skilled trade workers:

19% of young persons surveyed believe the starting pay for a skilled trade worker is less than $20,000.Half of current workers with fewer than ten years of experience earn at least $50,000.
23% of those surveyed disagreed that skills trades work with modern, highly advanced technology.89% of skilled tradesmen said they work with advanced technology.
19% believe trades work is not in high demand.94% of tradesmen say their position is in high demand.

What is Gen Z looking for?

Gen Z is transforming the workforce with a newfound attitude toward employment and shifting traditional job expectations. Across industries, Gen Z is in search of high-paying, flexible jobs that allow greater work-life balance outside the standard 9-5. More importantly, Gen Z finds soft benefits – benefits that cannot be measured in numbers as easily, like flexibility or transparency – to be the greatest factor in their job search. Companies that offer initiatives that support those types of soft benefits, will stand out among other organizations as Gen Z continues to make its way into the workforce. For example:

  • Gen Z wants in-person mentorship. In a recent survey, 63% of respondents said they would prefer in-person training from employers. Despite the digital, remote post-pandemic world we are living in, Gen Z is striving for more in-person connection, a place for direct mentorship, coaching, and learning on the job.
  • Gen Z seeks career development. 67% of the incoming workforce want to work for companies that offer mentorship programs and career development. Gone are the days of stagnant job positions with no clear path for growth. Gen Z sees the greatest job benefit as growing at a company and working their way up the ranks, learning both the hard, tangible skills for their day-to-day job responsibilities, and the soft skills necessary for leadership.
  • Gen Z cares about social causes. Transparency is key for Gen Z. Companies that openly support social causes and vocalize DE&I initiatives are most desirable to Gen Z. This new generation is hyper aware of societal issues and wants to speak on topics such as racism, mental health and climate change in the workplace. They will feel most welcomed by companies that share similar values and facilitate opportunities for those open dialogues.

At Redzone, we have dedicated our time to revamping the outdated perceptions of the manufacturing industry through updated frontline worker technologies and more opportunities for career growth. We believe in the future generations of frontline workers and the unique skills and perspectives they offer. To learn more about attracting Gen Z and breaking through the labor shortage, click here.

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