A lot of our Life Fit members will have grandchildren between the ages of about 12 and 22 years. These are ‘Generation Z’ – and we have many Gen Z’ers involved on our youth programmes at the YMCA. It is hard for the ‘older generation’ to keep up with the younger generations – who have been born into a very different world of technology and disruption quite unlike anything ever seen before in human history. This is both invigorating and exciting, yet we notice in our work at the YMCA that the divide between generations sometimes seems enormous.
While there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ young person (they are all unique), there are some things which researchers generalise about the habits and attitudes of Generation Z:
They are less likely to go to university/higher learning, because there are so many more options to learn and achieve. A Gen Z young person is also much more likely to enter the workforce in their teenage years, and also more likely to be entrepreneurial and start their own business idea.
Gen Z’ers are highly digitally social with 92% of them having an active engagement with social media. Experts argue that because of this Gen Z young people highly value individuality – they are looking for meaning and individuality in the brands they follow, the people they work for, the causes they engage with – and they are very globally aware, caring deeply about long-term issues and maintaining friendships and connections with people all over the world.
We asked our Gen Z’ers at the YMCA what were their BIG WORRIES? One big thing they worry about is the future of work – and how this impacts on decisions they are making now about their career pathways. Sometimes it is hard to navigate all the information thrown at them, by parents, by tertiary institutions, by their schools.
The YMCA’s youth department is holding a special evening for Gen Z’ers in Papa Hou in August – which will connect young people with 25 highly diverse people – to help them think critically about what, how, why and when as they plan the next chapter in their lives. The event is called LEAP and is designed by young people, for young people – but connects all generations in one great big conversation about life, about work, about learning and about what it means to follow your own path.