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Snapchat GM: Here's why experts are all wrong about young Aussies

·4-min read
 Kathryn Carter, General Manager for ANZ, SEA & HK, at Snap Inc.
Kathryn Carter, General Manager for ANZ, SEA & HK, at Snap Inc. (Source: Supplied)

One of the benefits of leading the Snapchat team here in Australia is that we have, on a regular basis, the opportunity to actively engage with young people.

I won’t profess to know everything about Gen Z, but dealing with this youth cohort and comparing our experience with what you often read or hear about them, you begin to realise that they’re vastly underestimated.

There is no doubt that the last 12 months have proven especially challenging for young people. They have had to adapt to learning remotely and find new ways to connect, socialise and share their experiences with friends.

Young people’s mental health has suffered the most, they are more likely to struggle to find a job and their longer-term economic prospects have been dented by the pandemic.

As a platform that reaches out 90 per cent of all 18-24 year olds and 75 per cent of all 13-24 year olds locally, we are given a unique insight into understanding young people, and a vested interest in their future.

With that in mind, we recently partnered with global economic forecasters Oxford Economics to build a view of what the future looks like for young people.

There is no doubt that young people have been hit economically by the COVID-19 pandemic. And while many commentators would try to paint a grim picture when it comes to longer-term employment prospects, our data shows a more positive outlook.

What we found is cause for optimism: damage to Gen Z’s earning power and employment prospects will be temporary. But, this requires us to rethink the way we deliver education if they are to seize the opportunities of a post-Covid world.

Why the future is bright for Gen Z Aussies

Gen Z will become the heartbeat of economic growth in Australia, with those in work doubling to nearly five million – more than 32 per cent of Australian employment – by 2030.

Gen Z’s income (after tax) is expected to climb to almost $295 billion in 2030, an eight-fold increase from 2019.

Beyond this, it’s the skills Gen Z have that will help them adapt and thrive in the job market of the future. While it’s not ground-breaking to suggest that the digital economy will continue to grow, Covid-19 has dramatically accelerated the speed and scale of this change.

We know that three in five Australian jobs will require advanced digital skills by 2030. And as the first generation to have grown up as digital natives, Gen Z – who beat all other groups in analysis of digital capabilities – will be able to take advantage of this growing need for digital skills more than any other generation.

Jobs in the emerging field of Augmented Reality (AR) – a market which is expected to see a ten-fold increase in value by 2023 – are a good example of the kind of profession that will require this blend of tech skills and creativity.

Experts predict this fast-growing technology will be used across a wide variety of industries – from marketing and education to construction and agriculture – to streamline processes, reduce human error and support training, in the coming years.

Some things have permanently changed. They even have the potential to be better than what came before.

So, we must give young people from all backgrounds the tools to be able to succeed, enabling Gen Z to unlock their own potential and lead our digital future.

Experts from Oxford Economics believe that for Australia’s youth to fully seize the opportunity of the digital economy, governments, schools and universities must not only play catch-up on months of disrupted learning, but fundamentally rethink traditional models of education.

The analysis shows this will mean tech know-how and so-called ‘cognitive skills’ like creativity and critical thinking will be much more in demand in the future – and we should be training for this.

While some have discounted the ingenuity and sheer potential of Gen Z, we at Snap are far more optimistic.

We see Gen Z as the consumers of the future – they have significant lifetime value for Australian businesses, and are ready to use their unique skills to help rebuild the economy and build the workforce of the future. That is an exciting prospect we’re excited to be a part of.

Kathryn Carter is the General Manager for Australia and New Zealand, South East Asia & Hong Kong at Snap Inc.

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