Today’s generation of teens will be more prepared for the future work environment than the generations before them because of the accelerating gig economy. Generation Z, which are those born between 1996 and 2010, strive to solve problems instantly and are maturing in a stranger-trusting community that utilizes daily on-demand services for food delivery like Favor, transportation solutions like Uber, and instant current event influence with news sent directly to their smart phones. Similar to generations before them, Gen Z will idolize job opportunities that fit their schedules, are convenient and will maximize their skill set. But how does that affect their current and future career landscape?
Today’s teens face a trending decline in traditional summer jobs including lawn care help, food service attendant, and store cashier, to name a few. Due to the recessions we have faced, and the plethora of more qualified adults who infiltrated the market, the teen demographic has been shut out of their go-to work environments. Companies are no longer reliant on teens to fill summer openings and after school hour schedules.
Since 2000, employment for teens between the ages of 16-24 has dropped 35% and with minimum wage soaring to upwards of $15.00 per hour, today’s teen is even farther away from the work opportunities and lessons that Generation X knew so well. So, what can teens do to gain work experiences for the future, earn money and learn equally important intangible skills like communication, decision making, and interpersonal skills? It turns out, some experts say, “It’s simple: do nothing. Stop looking.”
In her MBA course work, Diane Mulcahy, Adjunct Professor at Babson College, advises her graduate students to stop looking for a job. She explains, “That jobs aren’t what they used to be and that growth in the number of jobs is stagnating and full-time jobs are both insecure and risky.” According to Mulcahy, “Most companies no longer make promises of either professional or financial security of today’s workplace.” In short, more and more graduates are adapting their career expectations and shifting them to fit gig economy opportunities.
Gig opportunities are changing the face of our economy. We navigate life with the swipe of a finger. We solve for transportation needs, entertainment, residence and employment with our smart mobile devices. The future of the job market lies in the gig economy, and GenZ already has the upper hand.
73 percent of all teenagers, regardless of socio-economic status, have access to a smartphone. They spend well over 200 minutes on their devices per day and use devices for learning in school. The gig economy is already an integral part of the teen’s daily decision set. And giving teens a chance to participate in an economy that values their skill set will prepare them for navigating work opportunities in the 21st century. They will grow up understanding that their specialized skill sets, confidence and strong, innate entrepreneurial skills can yield opportunity in an on-demand world.
With services that help teens find work like, SnagAJob, HireTeen, SimplyHired, and Skratch, there are a few platforms working to bring opportunity to teens with the flexibility they so desperately need to face the demands of packed schedules and overwhelming extracurricular activities. It is estimated that by 2025 40% of working adults will be working this way. Shouldn’t teens have a chance to participate? We think so.
As the gig economy continues to influence the current economy and the work force, many job seekers must yield to the different qualifications and expectations the gig economy demands. As generations continue to grow up in the gig economy, an environment that fosters the entrepreneurial spirit, the innovations that arise will be world-changing.
Scott Bennett is the Founder and CEO of Skratch. A mobile-app that has digitized the gig economy and connects teens “Skratchers” with a way to earn money by completing everyday tasks in their area. Skratch believes in the power of teens and understands the importance of investing in teens prior to college experiences. Scott believes that along with a few bucks, early entrance into the gig economy will create a strong foundation of ambition, responsibility, and self-reliance.