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Number of the Day: COVID’s impact on Gen Z

Younger workers are rethinking career paths, and the skills they crave, because of the pandemic.
By: | December 15, 2020 • 2 min read


35%: Percentage of Gen Zers surveyed who say the pandemic has made them reconsider their career path

Among the many impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the world of work has been a lopsided effect by industry: Hospitality and travel workers, for instance, have been hard hit by layoffs and pay cuts, while food packaging, e-commerce and other industries have seen a hiring boom. How is that dynamic impacting prospective employees?

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That was among the questions talent network provider Tallo asked of its Gen Z users. In a poll of 1,700 users in this age group, Tallo found that 35% reported they were reconsidering their career plans because of how the pandemic has hurt certain industries. In particular, survey respondents were most likely to move away from jobs in construction, restaurants and catering, and retail; conversely, participants expressed the most interest in workplace safety and health, as well as marketing sales and content production.

In light of these shifts, learning and development are also a primary concern of Gen Zers. A full 99% of survey respondents told Tallo they think employers should invest in reskilling and upskilling employees. Participants recognized the value of soft skills: Nearly three-quarters said they are more important than hard skills in the current economy. In particular, they were interested in enhancing their communication, management and critical thinking skills.

See also: How to avoid employees ‘learning through Google’

What it means for HR leaders

Gen Zers’ drive for reskilling amid the changing labor market and economy suggests that HR teams should highlight their companies’ L&D efforts throughout the hiring process, says Casey Welch, co-founder and chief operating officer of Tallo. “A better understanding of what Gen Z values when it comes to skills and competencies will be critical when interviewing this generation,” he adds.

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Soft skills will become even more important once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides and employees have to “navigate the uncertainties of remote work and collaboration across virtual teams.” Empathy in communication will be vital, he notes, along with skills like critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving, which research has shown are top skills that the world’s largest employers report needing—and, according to Tallo’s new data, Gen Z feels the same.

“Employers would be wise to take note of this shift,” Welch says, “and adjust their efforts accordingly.”

Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.

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