Gen Z

150,000 reasons why more than 50% of Gen Z in the US want to be entrepreneurs and why the workplace will need them

According to research carried out by Nielsen last year, over half of Gen Z who were interviewed – 54% to be precise – indicated that they wanted to start their own company.

So, what made one-in-two of this demographic want to start their own business?

Well, if they are living and studying in the US, here are 150,000 reasons to begin with. The cost of studying for a four-year undergraduate degree works out at $150,000 ($37,500 per annum).

The costs in the UK and the EU are similar depending on where you study. Even though it only takes three years to gain a degree from a UK university, the average cost is still around $100,000 and if you have enrolled at a university in London or another big city, living expenses can increase significantly.

So, little wonder that Gen Z students are thinking twice before going to university, given the amount of debt that they will be saddled with once they have graduated. During the Nielsen survey, budding Gen Z entrepreneurs identified taking control of their futures, having a purposeful life, being a good environmentalist and wait for it… a debt-free start to adult life, as the key drivers to pursuing life as an entrepreneur.

Most universities and colleges are also looking ahead to graduates of the future and their role in the job market. In 2018, the Institute for the Future predicted that 85% of the jobs that students would take on in 2030 did not exist. That looks highly probable. We only need to think of technological advances such as AI and IoT and the talent that is now required to operate in those fields. Think about the jobs for digital nomads.

So, it is little wonder that a significant portion of the Gen Z demographic is having second thoughts about whether college or university is absolutely necessary for them to achieve their career goals. Therefore, an idea that is gathering increased momentum is periods of study, work and then further study that will prepare Gen Z for their future careers.

According to Forbes, a study by TD Ameritrade in 2018 surveyed 3,000 US teens and adults, with around one in five Gen Z admitting that they may not go to college. And in some ways, they would welcome an unorthodox direction through their education.

In addition, more than 30% of Gen Z said they had considered taking a gap year between high school and college. Moreover, 89% of Gen Z had considered alternatives to a four-year degree course, after high school. To fill the void, companies are now moving into the role of educator to train people for the specific jobs they will need to be doing and keeping their skills relevant.

Firms like Google, Adobe, Hubspot, Microsoft and others offer students inexpensive or free certifications that provide job skill training. Gen Z students are asking corporate recruiters whether companies will help them acquire new skills to do their job. With Generation Z in mind, AT&T, Apple, Adobe and others are making job and skill training a priority.

Whether a gap year or work experience, tertiary education is a viable option. And it cannot be a coincidence that in 2018, about 7.6 million students were 25 years old and over. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, that accounts for more than 30% of all college students in the US.

The time is right for Gen Z to lead the corporate world and become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and if any inspiration was required, they can take a leaf out of Mikaila Ulmer’s book.

After being stung twice by bees, she decided to do a bit of research and found out that the bees needed her help. She’d started selling her grandma’s flaxseed lemonade outside her house at the age of four, but added honey to the recipe. She was soon supplying to a local pizza parlour.

In 2015, the business took a leap when Ulmer started supplying Whole Foods with Me & The Bees Lemonade in an $11 million deal. Now in high school, Ulmer’s business has branched out into lip balms and she’s even served lemonade to former US president Barack Obama. Ulmer continues to invest 10% of her profits in bee conservation projects.

So, this is a classic lesson for all would-be Gen Z entrepreneurs from a 15-year-old – with no debt, complete control, purpose, and she is a good environmentalist!

I rest my case…