The Biggest Challenges Facing Gen Z Graduates | GradConnection

Posted by Daniel Headford

GradConnection Blog

The Biggest Challenges Facing Gen Z Graduates

Generation Z graduates have started entering the workforce faced with similar challenges to the millennials before them. What’s in store for these graduates as they tradition from study to the workplace? We explore some of the bigger challenges we see facing Gen Z.

Competition: Too few jobs and too many graduates

In 2018, 72% of undergraduates found employment in their field within four months of graduation, suggesting there aren’t enough graduate jobs available. However, 54% of employers say that ‘competition for graduate talent’ was a key recruitment challenge (AAGE 2019 Employer Survey), which could suggest the quality or suitability of applicants is an issue.

It is generally considered a candidate’s market, but graduates may need to up their game when it comes to applying for graduate roles and look for ways to stand out from their competition. There could be an emphasis on tailoring applications to individual employers and opportunities that most align with their values and career interests instead of the usual ‘spray and pray’ approach of previous generations.

Perhaps there’s an opportunity here for employers to enhance their attraction strategy to better connect with their ideal candidates.


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Sluggish economy

In Australia, it’s not exactly doom and gloom. We’re sitting at around 5.3% total unemployment which is considered near full employment. However, in 2019, youth unemployment is 11.8% across the board.

We’re noticing some growth in graduate opportunities however, with a 23% increase in the number of employers advertising opportunities on GradConnection between 2017 and 2018. It might become a question of agility and perseverance for those graduates unable to secure a graduate role in their chosen field.

Lack of real-world experience

Employers often cite employability as a key (and often lacking) trait they desire of graduates; for example, real life work experience, professionalism, adaptability. However, in Seek’s Understanding youth report 2019, young candidates reported struggling with gaining relevant work experience so they could get to interview stage. Perhaps employers could consider incorporating more internships or industry placement opportunities to help future graduates gain the experience they’re seeking.

Expectations that are too high

We’ve all heard the stories about graduates who, upon completing university, expect to hand pick the job they want, and the ones who have an expectation that they should be the boss rather than working for the boss.

Graduate development programs are highly sought after and valued because they tend to fast-track graduate careers, but it’s still important to manage graduate expectations from the beginning so they’re not disenchanted 18 months in sans promotion.

Debating between further higher education and job seeking

What happens when graduates don’t land the job of their dreams? Will they return to study, continue working in their casual role, or get creative and explore other entry pathways and non-traditional roles with desired employers and industries to jam their foot in the door, regardless of a development program?

For some graduates and disciplines, further study can lead to greater results long-term (financial and job position) and help them further distinguish themselves from other graduates.

Career change and personal alignment

Artificial intelligence and automation are changing the nature of work, making some traditional roles redundant. There are probably many new / different jobs popping up that Gen Z graduates aren’t even aware of as they aren’t part of traditional career paths discussed at university. This could mean more movement for this generation as they’re required to ‘go with the flow’.

With average job tenure expected to be four years, the only constant for Gen Z employees will be change as they adapt with technology and focus on finding more fulfilling work. According to Seek, 65% of Gen Z graduates have a clear idea of success, yet only 65% are confident they’ll have an enjoyable and fulfilling career. Further, 6 in 10 candidates feel concerned about their future and career prospects, meaning they might need more career guidance and mentorship in the workplace to help them plan the career they want.

Nerdy for knowledge?

For more employability trends and to secure your free strategy workshop consultation, get in touch with our team at [email protected].


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