How has COVID affected Gen Z?
Everyone in society felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, none more so than Gen Z. For many young people, it felt as though their lives were being put on hold with each new lockdown.
With Gen Z spanning from GCSE and A Level age through to 23 and 24 year olds working in their first jobs after university, they’re the only generation who have been impacted both in terms of their education and work life.
From unpredictable university experiences to being furloughed from their first jobs, there’s no doubt that COVID has forced young people to adapt quickly to situations that were impossible to predict a couple of years ago. While it’s impossible to ignore the negative impacts of COVID on Gen Z, at FAC3 we want to highlight the positives too! With every cloud...
So how has COVID affected Gen Z?
What have they lost - or perhaps gained over the last year and a half?
Unusual Learning Experiences
In schools and colleges, Zoom meetings and online teaching became the norm, leading many young people to feel isolated and lonely, and worried about their exam results.
Typical freshers week events were off the cards for those starting university in 2020, and for students mid way through their studies, their university experience changed almost overnight. Face to face lectures were replaced with online learning, and many students were paying for accommodation they couldn’t stay in - or in some cases, accommodation they couldn’t leave!
Difficulties Securing Jobs
Sadly, the industries hardest hit by COVID, like the hospitality and leisure sectors, were also those most likely to employ Gen Z workers. Even though the furlough scheme was available to help some of those already in paid roles, for those still job hunting, their search certainly became harder thanks to the pandemic.
Instead, lots of young people were forced to rely on families and parents for financial backing to help them make it through the year. Lots of students lost part time jobs that they would usually have relied on for extra income during and straight after their studies. For students graduating from university in 2020, they entered a job market saturated with qualified workers of all ages, and the already dreaded ‘job hunt’ became even more competitive. As we continue to move towards the summer, there’s no doubt that competition for jobs will continue to rise as a new cohort of graduates join those already searching for employment.
Greater Political Awareness
The COVID-19 crisis forced many in Gen Z to become embroiled in politics - even when they hadn’t been interested at all before the pandemic! Understandingly, this new thirst for knowledge came from wanting to be aware of events and decisions that would affect their future. Doom-scrolling the news on social media was unavoidable as information about lockdowns, vaccines and the numbers of those infected dominated all news feeds.
Despite many young people feeling disheartened and abandoned by the current government in favour of older generations, their determination to speak out and be heard will no doubt result in a generation who are more vocal and aware of their political duties.
Valuing Meaningful Relationships
While other generations were working from home, Gen Z were left without the social interactions typical of school, college and university life. For some students, more time with their families led to reconnecting with parents, developing new bonds with siblings, and appreciating those around them. For others, the lockdowns helped them to recognise friends who were there for them, and those who made the effort to maintain genuine relationships.
There’s no doubt that for some, lockdown helped to connect and reconnect with those who matter most, and that’s certainly not a bad thing.
Booming Side Hustles
The side hustle is bigger and better than ever before. In fact 46% more young people expect to be running their own business than in 2019. With entrepreneurial thinking on the rise, Gen Z are turning to everything from writing and bookkeeping to dog walking and handmade jewellery to earn some extra cash.
Gen Z’s natural inclination towards technology has no doubt helped to fuel their passion, making setting up a profile on Fiverr or UpWork a simple stepping stone to beginning their own business.
As well as boosting their income, building a side hustle or taking on freelance work can help support young people to be more creative, focused and improve their mental health.
Looking to the Future
According to the Guardian, Gen Z have a mixed view about the future. While some feel disheartened, others remain positive and upbeat as they think about the rest of the year ahead, and the years yet to come.
Even though some young people believe they have lost a year of their lives, others have found a year without as many pressures to be beneficial to their mental health. It’s impossible to truly understand the effects of COVID on all of Gen Z, BUT it’s important to note that not all of Gen Z have a bleak vision of the future.
Has COVID given you a new purpose?
Have you found your calling with a side hustle?