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How marketers can help Gen Zs prepare for tomorrow's economy

by John Wheeler
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    As technology evolves, so do the employment opportunities of the future. Marketers can do their part to help candidates prepare by providing ways for students to learn the next-generations skills they need -- directly from the companies they hope to work for.


    Gen Zers in college today face an unprecedented challenge: Entire industries — amounting to 800 million jobs worldwide — are on track for replacement by AI and automation by 2030. At the same time, other studies show up to 85 percent of the jobs needed for 2030’s economy — solar technologists, aquaponic fish farmers, professional nostalgists and robot counselors, to name just a few — have yet to be created on the necessary scale.

    Even so, modern colleges and universities continue to educate Gen Z students roughly along the same lines they’ve taught Millennials. There’s a prevailing, seemingly-certain expectation that today’s jobs will be around come tomorrow. But according to experts in government, education, the private sector — and among Gen Zers themselves — that’s not a safe assumption.

    In order to differentiate themselves to Gen Z job seekers — especially in competitive fields like STEM careers and advanced tech — brand marketers and HR departments should work better together to attract (and retain) top Gen Z talent. The sooner companies adjust their hiring strategies, the better their chances of survival in the fast-fire economy of the future. And the talent is out there: With 133 million new tech jobs expected by 2022, it should come as no surprise that 54 percent of Gen Zs envision themselves in careers related to science, technology or engineering.

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    There are many things marketers can do to support Gen Zers thirst for career development -- for example, sponsoring high-intensity internship or mentorship programs, hosting competitions for Gen Z students to submit new product ideas or even hosting Q&As with senior executives. In this way, marketing departments, can equip Gen Zs with an impressive list of on-the-job skills before they ever graduate from college: skills that will almost certainly prove vital for the future success of their companies. And this, in turn, will help make their HR departments’ hiring decisions faster and easier.

    For instance, General Motors is now staging nationwide “hackathons” for engineering students across American universities. Participating students are invited to solve real-life challenges that stand a chance of impacting the future of GM’s product designs. A recent Penn State University hackathon involved PSU students working to find creative uses for GM’s new vehicle infotainment system. The solution the team applied the infotainment system was creative indeed: solving Penn State’s perennial campus parking problem.

    By sponsoring a marketing initiative like this, GM achieves several things all at once. It gets the attention of talented Gen Z engineers, who will come to associate the brand with the forwarding-thinking, tech-savviness they seek in an employer — and in the manufacturer of a vehicle they may one day purchase. It also gives back to students by strengthening their resumés, helping them stand out among their peers in the ultra-discerning eyes of blue-chip, multi-billion-dollar companies. That’s the kind of marketing strategy that can’t be beat.

    It’s time for marketers to give back to students

    A new generation of talent means better opportunities for tech and advanced manufacturing companies to discover fresh streams of revenue, solve age-old engineering challenges and produce technologies that give birth to game-changing global industries (the App Store, anyone?)

    With 2030 barreling toward them at bullet-train speed, it’s up to tech and advanced manufacturing companies to think fast on their feet if they hope to find their seats in tomorrow’s economy. It’s up to marketing departments to supply Gen Z students with the skills they need to flourish and “future proof” their careers from change. If done right, marketers will have played a vital role in future-proofing their companies from their competitors.

      Download the report: Gen Z spending habits before and during COVID-19


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      Think digital marketing is all it takes to reach Gen Z? Think again. Download the research report here.