3/4 of Gen Z workers fear ChatGPT

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3/4 of Gen Z workers fear ChatGPT

In a recent ZipRecruiter survey, 76% of Gen Z reported being concerned about losing their job to ChatGPT. Most entry-level jobs are seen as launching pads for Gen Z careers — and that’s where AI steps in. The lower-level launchpad is in danger as AI technology targets “junior-level jobs.” According to LinkedIn Learning, 83% of organizations want to build a more people-centric culture, and L&D (learning and development) departments are helping, but it may not be enough. Because 100% of organizations are looking for ways to use AI to perform lower-level tasks, according to Insider. Automating many of these so-called junior tasks where on-the-job training takes place is a huge risk for Gen Z. While Gen Z may be more comfortable using technologies such as ChatGPT and other machine learning programs, AI represents a clear and present danger to Gen Z’s careers.

Dealing with rough work has long been where careers begin. In recent decades, corporations have been reluctant to invest in training programs, expecting junior employees to learn by doing and watching — or perhaps by Googling and struggling. MIT researcher, Paul Osterman, says that the workers who need training the most are not getting it (namely Gen Z). Only 38% of contract workers reported receiving formal training from their legal employer, and even less training at the place of employment. Freelancers also received less formal training at their clients’ sites, and in terms of informal training they trailed standard and contract employees by as much as 36%. Meanwhile, 80 percent of human capital executives say it’s hard to find skilled workers, according to the Conference Board. Companies are turning to every possible solution—cutting training programs, cutting costs, and creating opportunities for always-on AI solutions. If management doesn’t want to invest in training new workers, maybe they’d rather invest in eliminating them altogether?

Reducing reliance on traditional college degrees can help Gen Z

As college costs continue to rise and student loan forgiveness remains a political hot potato, Gen Z isn’t the only large demographic questioning the value of a college degree. Multiple state governors, from red states and blue states, have introduced programs that eliminate the need for four-year college degrees for most state government jobs. Vox reports that Utah’s Republican governor, Spencer Cox, is joining Democrat Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, as well as leaders in states like Maryland and Alaska, in scrapping traditional college degrees for public office.

Just over 10 years ago at IBM, less than 10% of US-based positions were open to applicants without a degree, regardless of their other qualifications. To expand its overly narrow talent funnel, the company launched the SkillsFirst initiative, according to Harvard Business Review. IBM overhauled its hiring practices to create on-ramps for people previously overlooked and build a pool of capable workers without degrees. A study called “Fired by Degrees” reports that more than 60% of employers have rejected otherwise qualified applicants simply because they don’t have a degree. This is changing, but will this change be enough?

Struggle to win against AI – and lack of interaction

AI isn’t the only battle facing Generation Z. In an essay titled Telecommuting is failing young employees, authors Charlie Warzel and Ann Helen Petersen share this Gen Z anecdote from Hazick, a 22-year-old living in Ireland, who says, “I think I miss a lot of the soft skills that one acquires in the first few years of work. If I was sitting next to my manager, I could just have a quick chat and move on,” he said. “But I’m much less likely to cut my manager slack and ask something because I don’t know what they’re doing at the moment. The amount of on-the-job learning has gone down dramatically.” Hybrid working or returning to the office may offer some solutions to the proximity problem. But if AI takes on new responsibilities, will proximity matter? Opportunity for Gen Z workers isn’t about proximity. Especially if the AI ​​handles this capability now.

Gen Z and the search for relevance: It’s taking too long

In ZipRecruiter’s survey, 41% of job seekers say finding suitable opportunities is their number one obstacle. Another challenge? The interview process. It takes too much time. How long is too long? How about “Nine Rounds of Interviews and No Call Back,” the title of a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, where Rza Molaev explains the changes since 2020 in his personal job search experience. After graduating from NYU in 2020, he applied to six jobs and received an offer within a month and a half. Cut to this year, when he was on the market again — and saw about 1,000 applicants for job postings he found on LinkedIn. After applying to 120 jobs and doing 30 interviews with 19 companies, making it through five rounds of interviews before being rejected, he landed a job at cosmetics manufacturer Lancome.

When Gallup reported that only 24 percent of American workers polled in May strongly agreed that their organizations cared about their well-being, the threat of AI’s inroads seemed to add insult to injury. Gen Z workers often feel a lack of purpose at work, especially when jobs are more menial than meaningful. With generative AI in the workplace, these sentiments will only increase. Inside man says the most tech-savvy will become the “guardians of the machines, cleaning up the deluge of errors these impersonal AI tools will spit out.” Gen Z is at a crossroads – we all are. Hybrid work is not about splitting time between home and office. Hybrid work now means discovering how people will work side-by-side with transformational AI technology. There is a battle ahead to find meaningful work opportunities for Gen Z – and for all of us – in the age of AI.

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