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Gen Z career aspirations “radically altered” by pandemic – INTO survey

Some 55% of under 25s surveyed by international education partnering organisation INTO University Partnerships have suggested the Covid-19 pandemic has led them to reconsider their career paths.

INTO surveyed students either starting their first year of an international degree program or planning to study abroad. Photo: pexels

Some 76% of respondents said they want to work overseas one day

The survey of over 1,200 Gen Z students from 93 countries also found that half of them now want a career that offers better work-life balance.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has radically altered the attitudes and career aspirations of Gen Z,” said Olivia Streatfeild, CEO of INTO.

“This change will come to define the world of higher education and work. It is absolutely critical that governments, universities and the industry are primed for this shift among young people to support a whole generation that is eager to learn and work differently.”

Of the 55% that report that their career aspirations have changed, 29% indicated their aspirations have changed a little, while 26% said they had changed a lot.

The findings also suggested that under 25s remain optimistic about the future.

Some 91% said they have a positive outlook on the future despite the Covid-19 setback, with 43% feeling optimistic and excited about their futures, and 48% hopeful but sometime anxious.

Indian students are the most optimistic, INTO noted, with 94% of them saying they have a positive outlook on their future.

“It is heartening to see that Gen Z are unfazed and determined to achieve their dreams”

Over four in 10 (45%) of respondents worldwide said they want to become entrepreneurs and start their own business. Some 88% said they consider reaching the top of their profession one day a goal.

Additionally, students indicated that studies overseas would benefit them to reach their aspirations.

“Young people are faced with the toughest challenge in a generation to forging their future as the world strives to emerge from the shadows of the pandemic,” Streatfeild added.

“It is therefore heartening to see that Gen Z are unfazed by the catastrophe and determined to achieve their dreams. Excellent international education opportunities and innovative programs that boost students’ career prospects will be pivotal in this recovery.”

Nine in 10 students stated they believe international degrees will help them obtain skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life.

A further 84% said they’d seek an international degree to train for a specific career, and 83% agreed overseas education offers a competitive career advantage. Some 76% said they want to work overseas one day.

“The current generation of students are more outcome-oriented than their predecessors”

“The current generation of students are more outcome-oriented than their predecessors. They demand concrete returns on their investment in an international degree,” Streatfeild added.

“It is on those of us in the international education sector to facilitate their success and work to ensure they get what they deserve from their studies abroad.”

The survey was conducted in August 2021, and featured responses from students in China, India, Nigeria, Kenya, Japan, Australia and Brazil among others.

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