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Pandemic Sparks Greater Entrepreneurship Among Gen Zers

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The coronavirus pandemic has created a host of issues and challenges for many Americans, regardless of their age. And while Gen Zers have suffered from mental health challenges and food insecurity during the pandemic, the crisis has ignited an entrepreneurial spark for many of these young Americans.

According to a recent survey from Ernst & Young, an accounting and consulting firm with U.S. headquarters in New York, 45% of American Gen Zers (those ages 14 to 24) say they’re very or extremely likely to start a business someday. Further, 44% of these Gen Zers report they’ve become more interested in becoming entrepreneurs since the start of the pandemic.

A fulfilling career is more important than making money

Among Gen Z respondents, making bank takes a back seat to a fulfilling career filled with purpose. The 2021 findings from Ernst & Young show 32% of Gen Zers say earning tons of money is most important in a future job or career, down from 38% in last year’s survey.

How they prepare for the workplace is different, too. According to a June 2021 survey from Ernst & Young’s corporate responsibility program — EY Ripples — Gen Zers feel education could be improved if more learning opportunities were offered in the following areas:

  • Real-life work: 59%
  • Professional mentorship: 57%
  • Projects: 52%
  • Research: 51%
  • Community service: 50%
  • Entrepreneurship: 47%
  • Collaboration: 36%
  • Field trips: 35%
  • Student teaching: 28%
  • Lectures: 20%

Looking back at the most recent survey, Gen Zers are more likely to want to make a difference in the world with their future job or career (39% in 2021, versus 33% in 2020), seeking employment where their contributions are valued. They also want to enjoy their work (69% in 2021, versus 62% in 2020) and be the best at what they do (40% in 2021, versus 37% in 2020).

Beyond jobs and careers, Gen Zers are more concerned in 2021 than 2020 about others being treated badly because of their gender, race and sex (52% versus 39%), paying for higher education (38% versus 36%), being treated poorly because of their race, gender or sexual orientation (37% versus 21%) and maintaining their romantic relationships (25% versus 17%).

Gen Zers are conscious consumers

According to the Ernst & Young report, this younger generation also shops with intention and sustainability in mind. Since March 2020, more than 7 in 10 (71%) say they’ve bought or had someone buy for them a secondhand piece of clothing.

What’s more, 61% say they recycle regularly and want to do more to help the environment, while 57% believe it’s very important or extremely important to buy from brands that do their part to protect planet Earth.

This most likely can be chalked up to 81% of them seeing climate change as a medium or significant problem, and more than half (55%) expressing they were very interested or extremely interested in environmental issues — up from 40% pre-pandemic.

Younger generations who would like to potentially start a business couched in their values and beliefs can look at small business grants to help kick-start their entrepreneurial endeavors. Other sources of small business financing, such as an SBA loan or small business loan, would also likely need to be considered.

Methodology: Ernst & Young surveyed a representative sample of 1,509 Gen Zers (ages 14 to 24) in the U.S., fielded between March 24 and April 8, 2021. Of those respondents, 40% were ages 14 to 17 and 60% were 18 to 24.

 

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