By Mark C. Perna and TFS
For so long it’s been all about the Millennials — but their younger siblings, born roughly starting in 1996, are the next generational cohort coming up the pike. Generation Z (also known as the Homeland Generation, iGeneration, Post-Millennial Generation, and more) shares many characteristics with Generation Y, but they’re also distinct. This is an exciting time to be a CTE educator, because what we deliver intersects exactly with what today’s young people are looking for. Let’s look at some of the traits, opportunities, and messages that will help reach this next generation.
The Trait: Generation Z worries about the future. They’ve been growing up in a post-9/11 world and many have witnessed the struggles of parents and older siblings following the economic downturn of 2008. As a result, this generation is motivated to achieve economic security.
The Opportunity: It’s imperative to focus on the unique competitive advantage that CTE delivers — getting that credential/college credit while still in high school, gaining experience in their field of interest, saving money and investing purposefully in further education, and more.
The Message: CTE gives you an edge!
The Trait: Generation Z is hardworking. They’re going to work earlier (often encouraged to do so by their parents), looking to gain experience and start creating the economic security they’re seeking.
The Opportunity: We need to proclaim that CTE helps students enter the workforce with marketable skills that can be built upon through further education and work experience.
The Message: CTE can help you get a great job sooner!
The Trait: 81% of Gen Z believes a college education is necessary to gain a good career. It is estimated that 1 in 2 Gen Zers will be university educated (compared to 1 in 3 Millennials and 1 in 4 Gen Xers).
The Opportunity: It’s essential to position CTE as both a college and career bound track — because that’s exactly what it is. Contrary to the old stigmas, CTE is not just for students who don’t plan to go to college. Many of today’s leading CTE programs help students make the most of their college experience.
The Message: CTE equips you for college and beyond!
The Trait: Independent and innovative, Generation Z is attracted to the freedom and responsibility of entrepreneurship.
The Opportunity: The real-world skills that CTE imparts are crucial for many young entrepreneurs. Internships, apprenticeships, maker spaces, and other hands-on opportunities give students the chance to experience the field they’re interested in.
The Message: CTE gives you the tools to be your own boss!
The Trait: Generation Z wants to change the world. While Millennials have sometimes been called “slacktivists” for their lack of follow-through on social issues, Gen Z is showing signs of vigorous involvement and volunteerism for the causes they believe in.
The Opportunity: CTE offers many ways to serve the community, from community building and beautifying projects to food, clothing, and blood drives. It also gives students real skills to make a difference for others — giving them something to give back.
The Message: CTE is all about making our community a better place for everyone!
These are powerful messages to weave throughout your instructional time, giving relevance to the skills you’re imparting. Now is the time to start talking about the competitive advantage, the early career skills, the college pathway, the entrepreneurship tools, and the volunteer opportunities that your program opens up. The priorities that drive the younger generations should drive our instructional narrative — telling the story of CTE’s value and helping Generation Z achieve their peak potential. For this generation, the hands-on experience of CTE is essential to the world they want to build. Let’s help them build it!
This piece originally appeared at https://www.beawade.com/founders-perspective-gen-z/