Move over Millennials, Gen Z are the new kids in town and they are more diverse and even more tech-native. And, critically for employers, they will work differently and have different skills.
“It’s all about the next generation,” confirms Gareth Lewis, Senior Manager in Group Treasury at ANZ. “If you think about the way the world of work is changing, we want our next generation of employees to be flexible enough to take advantage of that.”
If you were born between 1981 and 1996 you’re considered a Millennial according to The Pew Research Center but from 1997 onward (ages 7 to 22 in 2019), you’re part of the new generational cohort dubbed ‘Generation Z’.
Gen Z is shaping up to be the most racially and ethnically diverse adult generation in history. Technologically, they are growing up in an “always on” environment where the way people communicate and interact is vastly different from the generations before them.
For Gen Z, growing up in the age of the digital revolution, things like social media, constant connectivity and on-demand communication are all an assumed part of life.
Gen Zers are living in, and best placed to take advantage of, the aptly named Third Industrial Revolution which is fundamentally changing the nature of work through the rise of the gig economy, the automation and digitisation of work, the availability of information and the ease of working across geographies.
Investing in the next generation
Gareth says ANZ is striving to have people think about the world of work “more laterally”.
For the bank, a key initiative is a program called Work Inspiration – the initiative is business-led and provides young people with opportunities to experience the world of work first hand in a meaningful and inspiring way.
The program, run by Australia’s largest children’s educational charity, The Smith Family, provides opportunities for students to visit workplaces and learn about career opportunities and pathways.
It offers insight and opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who may be struggling at school, or who lack the motivation and encouragement to explore their future career options. “Work Inspiration is great to plant the seed,” explains Gillian Lambie, Relationship Manager from The Smith Family.
“We know that youth unemployment and underemployment in Australia is an issue – especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This program gives students exposure to what the world of work looks like,” she says.
The power of education
Gareth says “in terms of the future, it’s only going to help us because we’re going to have a larger group of educated, inspired workers. We want everyone to reach their full potential, regardless of their background and the resources available to them.”
"Nelson Mandela once said 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world' – this is a quote that goes to the heart of the program,” says Gareth.
“We’re trying to emphasise to people – there are so many different types of jobs [in an organisation like ANZ].”
A diverse workforce that brings different perspectives, backgrounds and skills not only benefits organisations like ANZ; economically, it benefits the entire nation.
This is supported by the work of Deloitte Access Economics which says “The level and quality of the education of a country’s labour force has been consistency demonstrated as a driver of economic growth”. In addition “society benefits through greater levels of innovation, social cohesion, tax revenues and other positive spill overs”.
The state of disadvantage
Work Inspiration is also designed to give students a deeper understanding of the world outside the school and home environment. Disadvantage, given the students’ backgrounds, is particularly relevant.
According to The Smith Family, today one in six children and young people in Australia are living in poverty where even the basics of life – food, shelter, clothing, security – are hard to come by.
The three-day program was led and run by ANZ’s Group Treasury team in partnership with The Smith Family. The students who attended gained first-hand experience in what a career at ANZ might look like, and were given the opportunity to participate in practical workshops developing their communication and presentation skills. The students had access to sessions with Senior Leaders reflecting on their careers when they could ask questions and get advice.
Gareth was impressed with the way the students’ took advantage of the face-to-face opportunity: “the quality of their questions was outstanding. They really thought about what they wanted to ask our CEO and CFO to help benefit their own career path and utilised the fact they had unique access to such senior leaders in Australia.”
“Do you still think it’s possible to work your way up in your career?” posed one of the students.
“Well, yes everyone has to start somewhere. You don’t become CEO unless it’s your own company, which you may want to do,” was Shayne Elliott’s reply.
Shayne describes on video how the program is aligned to the ANZ’s purpose “To shape a world where people and communities thrive”.
He says that as a large employer, ANZ has a real role in showing this generation some of the potential pathways that lay ahead.
“Being able to have these kids come in, talk to them about what we do, answer their questions, build their confidence and show them they can have a future that is bright and bold”
A bright and bold future
Another student was asked on video what her favourite part of the program was. “That I got to meet powerful women like Michelle [Jablko –ANZ Chief Financial Officer],” she responds unequivocally.
“When she came into the room I was so overwhelmed because she’s so powerful. It can actually inspire women like me and other girls out there. It showed me it’s not only men that can do great things – but women can do great things too”.
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