A late-2018 study from IFAC titled Make Way for Gen Z: Identifying What Matters Most to the Next Generation suggests accounting is the perfect career choice for today’s young adults. Zobuzwe Ngobese, Marketing and Business Development Executive at SAIPA, says it is a timely insight into the aspirations of the new generation, some of whom are still deciding on their career while others are already entering the workplace. “The document reports that people in that generational group mainly desire stability and job security,” he says. “The accounting profession satisfies this requirement as well as many others revealed by the survey.” The study is also an invaluable guideline for employers who need to understand what motivates the next wave of workers to maintain high productivity in their organisation.
What Gen Z wants
The report classifies Gen Z as those born between the mid-1990s and around 2005, who will make up one third of the global workforce within a decade. Their bias toward economic stability - both personally and marketwise - and nationalism over globalism, stands in stark contrast to the previous Millennial generation’s “live the dream at any cost” outlook. Ngobese observes that Gen Z were fundamentally affected by the economic crisis of 2008 and therefore yearn for greater security.
The study surveyed 3388 people between the ages of 18 and 23 in G20 countries, considering two broad topics - public policy, and careers and work. It revealed that the majority want their governments to focus on their country’s economy, quality of education and availability of jobs. 51% prefer a national approach to policy while only 32% desire a globalist approach. 89% prioritise a stable career, 87% a competitive salary and benefits, and 84% a good balance between work and life. Although lower in their priorities, the majority are keen on leadership opportunities (64%), working abroad (63%) and driving business strategy (63%).
South African perspective
In South Africa, the main Gen Z concerns are, first, stopping corruption in government and corporations, followed by addressing income and wealth inequality and, third, tackling climate change. 63% favour a nationalist approach. It is notable that, in South Africa, those surveyed prioritised the ethics of their chosen industry or profession ahead of work-life balance. “This is exactly the attitude required for SAIPA to realise its vision of a new era of ethical accounting for the country,” says Ngobese. Over half of the respondents indicated they will pursue or would consider pursuing a career in accounting.
Professional Accountant (SA)
Ngobese says SAIPA’s Professional Accountant (SA) designation is the ideal career path for Gen Z. Its ultimate goal is economic stability, it is backed by strong ethical standards to protect the public and national interests, and it is one of the most stable and rewarding careers in history. “We definitely need professionals with Gen Z’s strong moral and economic ideals.”
Information on education, practical training and membership entry requirements for becoming a Professional Accountant (SA) can be found on SAIPA’s website at www.saipa.co.za. Employers may review the IFAC study at https://www.ifac.org/publications-resources/make-way-gen-z-identifying-what-matters-most-next-generation
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