The latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey reveals a mixed but optimistic hiring landscape in the UK for Q3 2024.

Despite a slight decrease in hiring intent, the UK’s Net Employment Outlook remains positive at +20%, surpassing the EMEA regional Outlook of 19% but trailing the global Outlook of +22%.

The survey of 2,100 respondents shows a high demand for younger workers, with nearly half (45%) of UK managers planning to hire workers aged 25 and under in the upcoming quarter. Regions such as Northern Ireland (53%), Scotland (50%), Wales (49%), East Midlands (49%), Yorkshire & Humberside (48%), and London (47%) show particularly strong hiring intent for this age group.

Challenges in Engaging Younger Employees

However, 96% of UK employers report challenges in engaging employees with less than ten years of work experience, including Gen Z and younger Millennials. Employers cite difficulties in meeting work-life balance expectations and maintaining motivation, as well as concerns about skill gaps. To address these issues, managers plan to implement the following engagement strategies for Q3:

  1. Offering flexible work hours (71%)
  2. Emphasising overall wellbeing (70%)
  3. Improving technology tools (69%)

Michael Stull, Managing Director of ManpowerGroup UK, remarked, “The stereotypical view that Gen Z lacks a proper work ethic miscasts a generation otherwise keen to acquire skills and utilise new technology in a rapidly evolving labour market – albeit on their terms. With around three million young people economically inactive in the UK, and a further half a million registered unemployed, the strong appetite to hire from this age group next quarter can be turned into a meaningful opportunity.”

Technological Adaptation and Future Work Trends

Gen Z’s enthusiasm for technology is significant, with many survey respondents identifying as either ‘early adopters’ (20%) or ‘current adopters’ (31%) of AI tools like ChatGPT, Gemini, or DALL.E. This trend suggests that Gen Z could be the last generation to work full-time as currently understood.

The intersection of technology and work raises questions about the developmental needs and expectations of Gen Z. Employers are encouraged to form a new ‘pact’ with younger workers, focusing on training, professional development, and vocational opportunities. This approach aims to:

  1. Increase youth employment
  2. Address skill gaps
  3. Ensure future prosperity for the UK labour market and Gen Z specifically

The Call for Lifelong Learning and Flexibility

Stull added, “Employers who address intergenerational opportunities and offer the flexibility, development, and purpose Gen Z need to thrive will potentially unlock a workforce ready and able to learn the skills needed to adapt to a rapidly evolving tech, green, and employment landscape. This pivot towards ‘lifelong learning’ will require a new, coordinated effort between businesses, education and training institutions, and the government. Otherwise, millions of employees risk being left behind as technology evolves.”

He emphasised, “The best way to unlock the future prosperity of the country is to unlock the potential of its people. With 80% of employers reporting difficulty finding talent with the skills they need – up from 14% ten years ago – this evolution is already affecting employers’ ability to hire and grow. It’s particularly important that we get this right for Gen Z, given they will make up around 60% of the global workforce by 2030.”

The latest survey underscores the critical need for strategic adjustments to accommodate and leverage the strengths of Gen Z workers, ensuring their successful integration into the workforce and contributing to the UK’s economic resilience. For more insights and detailed analysis, visit the ManpowerGroup website and explore the full Employment Outlook Survey.