By Karen Lomas
While definitions differ slightly, researchers and popular media refer to Generation Z as those born in the mid-to-late 1990s to early 2010s — i.e., those under the age of 25 in 2021. Gen Z is the age group that the coaches at my company, Karen Your Career Coach, mostly work with.
The impact of Covid-19 and lockdowns on Gen Z
The report revealed the following:
How many participants were studying (62%)
Of those studying, how many put their studies on hold (5%)
How many participants were working (79%)
How many were both working and studying (50%)
How many employed Gen Zs were recipients of JobKeeper (over 20%)
How many were neither working nor studying (9%)
I’m will focus on a couple of aspects of this report and what it reveals about the lives of Generation Z during the pandemic.
The 5% of participants putting their studies on hold
I thoughts perhaps this percentage would be higher, and I believe this small number is in part a testimony to the resilience of young adults. Some have reported to me over the past two years that they get more done when they are able to study remotely and by themselves.
That said, others really struggled and did not enjoy being alone. Those starting further education in the past couple of years would have imagined being on campus, meeting new friends and joining clubs. The repeated lockdowns put a stop to this, causing much disappointment and frustration.
Many Gen Zs may have found themselves alone for many hours in the day during lockdowns, certainly if both parents are front-line workers. I spoke to some who acknowledged that they were spending ‘too much time watching Netflix’, or playing games. Others stayed focused on their studies by establishing their own study routines, as well as organizing or scheduling in exercise.
The fact that most participants continued to study can be attributed to the agility of education institutions in pivoting quickly to online learning. Some higher education institutions were already offering online delivery of lectures; the others had to catch up fast.
The impact of online learning
Further education institutions that offer mostly ‘applied’ courses, meaning practical training alongside lectures and written assignments, had the biggest challenges. How do you teach practical skills virtually? Many students who are enrolled in these types of courses have told me that their theory subjects continued, but they missed out on their favourite subjects, which were those that involved more hands-on learning.
The over 20% of students on JobKeeper
I suspect the number of students on JobKeeper might have been higher if 20 year-olds had more job security. Youth groups are over-represented in the numbers of employees on short-term casual employment contracts and as such, many young adults were in fact, ineligible for JobKeeper.
While JobKeeper provided a life-raft to many, the scheme was relatively short-lived. From the LSAY study we see an increase in the number of 20 year-olds working more than one job, and a decrease in those employed in permanent positions.
Mental health among Gen Z during Covid-19
The Australian Government Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has revealed that ‘between January and 16 June 2021, there were 187 cases (of Covid-19) among young people aged 15 to 24, making up 9.7% of the total’. Compared to 2017, psychological distress has increased in this group, in part due to a drop in social connectedness. There have been reports of increases in numbers of emergency department admissions of young adults, due to self-harm.
Professional support and helplines
If you are is suffering from the multiple impacts of the lockdowns in Australia, please refer to this links below:
Note from the author: The opinions I have shared are my own and are current at the time of publication.