When it comes to Gen Z, the next generation is weighing in on AI, workforce training needs, and other issues impacting their future.

Gen Z students worry about AI, student debt, and careers


The next generation of workers is weighing in on AI, workforce training needs, and other issues impacting their future

Key points:

When it comes to the future, Gen Z students are worried about how AI will form their career opportunities.

More than half of Gen Z youth (59 percent) say they believe AI will have a more negative than positive effect on society in the next 10 years, 55 percent are extremely or very much concerned about AI’s impact on personal privacy, and 62 percent are worried about job displacement, according to the 2024 Career Interest Survey conducted by National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).

The survey offers a look at how 10,072 Gen Z students (born after 1997) view their future education and career prospects.

The amount of first-time college attenders remains steady at 24 percent, the same the last survey in 2022. The trend is attributed to the ongoing increase in proportions of ethnicities for whom college is more often a first-time experience.

Nearly half (48 percent) of next-generation workers say the most important quality in an employer is clear communication skills.

Young people want experience. More than nine out of 10 expect to participate in an internship and almost three quarters (70 percent) were interested in certification courses to prepare for what lies ahead.

The majority (63 percent) have concerns about pursuing passions as careers due to not making sufficient income. The top career fields of interest include medicine/health-related (24 percent), healthcare (22 percent), and engineering (18 percent).

Paying for education

When asked how they plan to pay for higher education, and just over half of participants (52 percent) expect scholarships to be their top contributor. Overall, when analyzing their rankings for each option, the second-leading contributor was a job while in college, third was family assistance, fourth was grants, fifth was personal savings, and sixth was student loans.

Regarding student loans, 22 percent expect to have no college debt, with another 22 percent expecting to have less than $10,000 in debt; at the other extreme, 16 percent expect to have $50,000 or more in debt.

Almost half (41 percent) believe that student loan debt has or will prevent them from pursuing their passions.

Sixty-six percent of students say they’ll live at home after college graduation to further be able to pay for student loans.

Workplace and employer preferences

Fair treatment of all employees continues to rank at the top of all workplace preferences (28 percent rank it first), followed by work life balance (25 percent), and corporate social responsibility (14 percent).

Sixty-seven percent say they expect employers to offer in-person training.

Health benefits trump time-off and flexible work schedule as their most valued compensation benefits, with 72 percent saying health benefits, 25 percent work-life balance, and 61 percent saying flexible work schedule.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Laura Ascione

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