Gen Z Are Giving Up Their Career Ambitions In The Face Of The Cost Of Living Crisis

Young people are no longer prioritising their dream jobs – primarily because of the ongoing pressures from the cost of living crisis, according to new research.

After conducting interviews with 2,500 young people – all born between 1997 and 2012, making them Gen Z – the Prince’s Trust and the LadBible Group found almost two-thirds (57%) of respondents agreed the greatest impact on their futures was the cost of living crisis.

Around 44% said the economy was the largest concern, while 39% said it was their mental health.

The cost of living crisis saw inflation soar to double digits last year, and while the UK has just dodged a technical recession, wage increases have only just started to catch up.

And, as the House of Lords found last year: “The rising cost of living has been associated with a reduction in wellbeing, including increased anxiety and worsening mental health.”

On top of all that, 36% of the Gen Zers surveyed said a lack of opportunity was the main obstacle to applying for their own dream jobs.

Meanwhile, 35% said worries about money stopped them from looking for their ideal roles, 33% cited a lack of experience, 32% discussed lack of self-confidence, and 30% pointed to the increased cost of living.

So how do you define a dream job? For 64% of the young people, that’s doing something which makes you happy; for 60%, it’s something they enjoy; and 49% it’s a role which makes you financially secure.

Sadly, only 7% of respondents said they have and are currently in their dream role.

Most respondents said they were planning for the short term, with 60% prioritising any job over their dream job, and 40% changing their career plans in the last year.

And more than half said they had lowered their long-term plans over the past two years, while half were not planning beyond the next six months.

Jonathan Townsend, UK chief executive of the Prince’s Trust, told The Guardian: “This research provides a blunt warning that the cost of living crisis threatens the futures, aspirations and wellbeing of an entire generation, if we do not act now.”

He pointed to how young people have already had a major disruption through the pandemic, “whether it be their education or early careers”, and added: “These findings show that the continued economic uncertainty is forcing them to make decisions which will compound this further.”

Townsend concluded: “We’re seeing young people left feeling worried and unconfident about ever achieving their aspirations and thinking only in the short term – this could have significant impact for their futures and for wider society.”

Around 73% of respondents agreed it is challenging for their generation to get the job they want.

Previous research from LadBible, conducted in May this year, found around 66% of Gen Z respondents were stressed while 62% were anxious – and around a third of young people are consistently worried about job opportunities.