Over a third (41%) of Generation Z would be willing to accept short-term economic limitations, such as lower GDP growth, for policymakers to invest in a longer-term strategy that promotes more sustainable growth, according to Dell Technologies’ research.
The research captures the voice of Gen Z adults (18–26 years) across 15 countries, including the UK, regarding social and economic recovery strategies. Almost two-thirds (65%) of survey respondents believe that technology will play an important role in the fight against climate crisis.
With many of Gen Z willing to bear short-term economic limitations, they ranked sustainable energy (50%), enabling a circular economy (36%) and more sustainable public transport (29%) as the top three areas for governments to prioritize. A fifth of respondents (20%) also expressed support for greater sustainability education for citizens.
Gen Z’s confidence that public sector recovery investments would deliver a flourishing economy within 10 years is split: Over a third (40%) have low or no confidence, 39% are undecided, and 21% have high or total confidence.
Richard Rawcliffe, Vice President and General Manager UK Public Sector, Dell Technologies: “Gen Z is the group that will be most impacted by public and private investment decisions taken today as the future workforce that will facilitate and maintain long-term, sustainable recovery. Gen Z comprises digital natives passionate about social issues such as sustainability. There is an opportunity to earn the support of Gen Z for longer-term strategies that put digital transformation and sustainability at the core of economic growth strategies. Interestingly, the data revealed that acceptance of investing today for a digital and more sustainable tomorrow increases to 47% amongst those likely to vote, making it potentially a vote winner as the UK looks to drive our future-facing economy.“
Respondents said that this digital future must have a strong cybersecurity backbone. More than half (55%) feel there is a need for robust legislation and higher investment in cybersecurity to protect national infrastructures and ensure private businesses meet tough standards. To make this happen, and to improve trust in governments, 31% of respondents want private and public sectors to work together and hold each other accountable.
Dr Eliza Filby, Generations expert & Historian of contemporary values, said: “It’s clear that Gen Z individuals are tuned in to both the politics and policies shaping their future. The time between now and 2025 elections provides an enormous opportunity for policy makers to work with this part of the electorate on the solutions we need to start building today, for the challenges we will face tomorrow.
Gen Z is the first generation of true digital natives. Despite an imbalance in access to digital skills through education, the research shows Gen Z see tech playing an important part in influencing what matters to them: access to healthcare and sustainable infrastructure. The real take away from the research is Gen Z are actively identifying the areas they want to see change; with a clear vision of the role they play as individuals, in bringing about that change.”
Closing the digital skills gap and digital divide
Gen Z recognizes the value of developing the necessary digital skills for their future careers. Three-quarters (74%) consider learning new digital skills essential to increasing future career options or plan to acquire them.
Respondents feel their education could have better prepared them with digital skills. Over half (52%) of UK respondents said that school only taught them very basic computing skills and one-in-ten (10%) did not receive any technology or digital skills education. Four-in-ten (40%) claim school (under 16) didn’t prepare them with the technology skills needed for their planned career.
To help bridge the digital skills gap, a third (35%) of respondents suggested making technology courses at all education levels more interesting and widely available. Over a quarter (29%) believe mandatory technology courses up to 16 years will encourage young people into technology-driven careers.
Rawcliffe added: “It’s clear that Gen Z sees technology as pivotal for their future prosperity. However, there is still a digital poverty gap in parts of our society, as well as a digital skills gap, so more can be done to set them up for success through improvements in the quality and access to digital learning for all. It will require constant collaboration between businesses and schools to keep pace as technology evolves and bridge this digital skills gap. What’s up for grabs is a flourishing society and economy which includes everyone. And we’re excited to continue working with our partners in the public and private sector to make this a reality.”
Gen Z sees access to devices and connectivity for disadvantaged groups (33%) and connectivity in rural areas (22%) as the investment areas government should prioritize to help close the digital divide.
The research also found:
- To support economic growth, improving healthcare services (57%), investing in education to help close the skills gap (27%) and investing in sustainable/green infrastructure (29%) were the top three priorities globally amongst Gen Z.
- Over half (54%) of Gen Z have low or neutral confidence in their personal data being stored compliantly by healthcare providers.
- Half (50%) of Gen Z consider flexible and remote working as an important consideration when choosing an employer.