The New Youth Boom in the Workforce

Sharon Hulce Blog, Career Blog, Featured Posts Leave a Comment

We have had a lot of generational conversations with our clients over the past few years.

Especially now when we have not one, not two, but five generations within our workforce.

Millennials have fully taken on the largest portion of the workforce, with Gen Z quickly coming up behind them. We see the tides have turned to the younger worker, which currently makes up the largest majority of the labor market. Not only did Millennials dethrone the Baby Boomers as the largest generation back in 2019, but Gen Z is primed to overtake Millennials by 2034 with a population of 78 million (almost twice the population of California).

Millennials, also referred to as Generation Y, are often seen as young or new professionals. In reality, they’re already situated comfortably in their corporate careers. Millennials have fully created a path in the workforce with the oldest of the group being in their early 40s. Quickly, the newest generation flooding into the workforce is Generation Z.

We’re still talking about the impacts of “The Great Resignation” in 2022. It bears noting that the most popular age for individuals switching careers is 39 years old. It should come as no surprise that Generation Y, our Millennials, are ripe for “job switching”. Many are switching in search of a higher-wage occupation, and with the current talent war, they are finding it. Others switch out of boredom, seeking to try a different industry and begin to focus on something they are more passionate about. They are searching for their purpose and “why”.

It seems Millennials and Gen Z share many similar values as a population. This works in favor for employers, because not only will future employees work well together, but they can be catered to in tandem. It’s a much better transition than it was from Baby Boomer to Millennial, which view many aspects of work far differently.

Oftentimes major differences and gaps from one generation to another cause misconceptions. For example, younger generations may see Boomers as technologically challenged when in reality they’ve been incredibly adaptable, considering how much technology has grown over their lifetime.

Older generations (Baby Boomers) may look at Millennials and Gen Z and subscribe to the idea that they’re lazy and have a lower work ethic when they’re looking to normalize a healthy work/life balance and focusing on finding work they are most passionate about.

With increasing student loan debt, the younger generation feels the pressure to work more than ever. According to EducationData.org, 65% of today’s college students leave college with substantial debt, with the average student loan balance situated between $37,000 – $40,000. Many have much more.

What does all this information mean? It means modernization, both in terms of how we prepare people for the workforce and the development of the workforce itself will be necessary.

We’re sure many have grown tired of hearing about how the pandemic changed the future of work, but the change is real. It didn’t just shift ideologies when it comes to work from home, it also forced organizations to innovate and think creatively to solve their new problems. A new adaptability, even a slight one, will be important as the Boomer generation has less and less presence at work. As they retire, unfortunately, much of their expertise will as well.

The pandemic pushed a lot of Boomers into early retirement, leaving Generations Y and Z to fill in the gaps. Many things caused this – they didn’t like the changes of not having their teams present, they were let go due to a slow economy – making it difficult to find a new opportunity, or they couldn’t risk going to work in person for health reasons. Because of this and more, many Boomers left work for good. This created a new issue because mentorship and industry knowledge were not taken advantage of for the people in succession for their roles.

As leaders in business, we will need to tackle how to continue to make our firms prosper while analyzing outdated “best practices” in a whole new way. Luckily, the resilience of the younger generation getting through higher education and/or a career search mid-pandemic is what will help shape a “better normal” than before.

Here’s a striking statistic: Millennials and Gen Z now make up 75% of the workforce. It will be critical to foster their hunger to learn and grow in their education and careers. They are both our future and both are currently making a huge impact on our bottom line. They care about making a positive difference. While we will always have misconceptions about every generation, the truth is, the workforce is in good hands.

Looking for more insight on this topic? Check out “Attracting and Retaining Millennials and Gen Z”

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