Gen Z Sours On Tech Jobs, New GMAC Survey Finds

Gen Z Sours On Tech Jobs, New GMAC Survey Finds

What do Generation Z B-school students and prospective students want? The latest GMAC survey has some answers, but it also raises more questions

Generation Z is getting a lot of love from pollsters these days. To sum up the thrust of a series of recent surveys: What do the youngsters really want?

To sum up the answers … well, that’s a much harder thing to do.

Generally defined as those born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is the focus of a new report from the Graduate Management Admission Council released today (April 10) that makes for an interesting addition to the lineup of other recent surveys, because it aligns with some of their findings and contrasts with others. It’s also interesting because it contains seemingly contradictory findings within its own pages.

Notably, GMAC found that for most would-be business school applicants, happiness — not money — is the primary motivator, with 79% of prospective students worldwide saying they are motivated to pursue post-graduate business credentials to better their lives and develop their potential, which is 15 percentage points more than those saying they are most interested in increasing income. Yet while women, millennials, underrepresented U.S. candidates, and first-generation prospective students are all more likely to prefer careers in the historically more secure (and less lucrative) government or nonprofit sectors, Gen Z students — who make up more than half of prospective students in the graduate business education pipeline — are most interested in finance and accounting, where they are likely to work longer hours and make more money.

And despite the general drive for greater happiness, GMAC also finds that Gen Z is “about 10 percentage points more likely to cite increasing their incomes and expanding their networks as top motivators for pursuing graduate management education than their older counterparts.”


Gen Z Sours On Tech Jobs, New GMAC Survey Finds

GMAC’s Nalisha Patel: “Traditional teaching methods of lectures, seminars, field trips and takeaway readings are of incredibly low-interest to this generation.” GMAC photo

Gen Z are also less likely to consider careers in tech, a change that seems to predate the current implosion in that sector. GMAC collected its data mostly before the ongoing contraction of the tech industry, yet the results show a weakening of the B-school-to-tech pipeline as Gen Z, women, and underrepresented U.S. candidates declare less interest in the sector. Consulting remains the favorite industry for all B-school grads, with tech fast fading as No. 2.

Trying to understand the habits of new generations is a time-worn undertaking, and Gen Z are the latest object of fascination. In January, Poets&Quants reported on a new study from ESMT Berlin Master of Management graduate Jan Malte Jeddeloh, who found that the top three things Gen Zers want in a future employer are: high salaries, stable contracts, and remote options. Jeddeloh surveyed 626 students with an average age of 29 years who attended 29 Global Network for Advanced Management B-schools, a majority of whom were male and either from China, India, or the United States. Jeddeloh found that the five most relevant attributes for younger workers are salary, type of contract, remote work, company reputation, and status; the five least important attributes are company size, bonuses, DEI, hours, and type of work.

In February, P&Q reported on new survey data from WP Engine and the Center for Generational Kinetics that found that as Gen Z students matriculate out of undergraduate programs and enter the professional world, graduate business programs are looking for ways to appeal to this socially conscious and politically active generation of digital natives. They have their work cut out for them, as Nalisha Patel, the European regional director for the Graduate Management Admission Council, found: Patel wrote in a report for GMAC Europe last October that figuring out what Gen Z students want out of B-school and adapting programs to fit their needs is a daunting task — and one that programs may be lagging in.

“Traditional teaching methods of lectures, seminars, field trips, and takeaway readings are of incredibly low-interest to this generation,” Patel writes in her report titled The Future of Graduate Management Education. In an interview with P&Q in February, she added that while this new generation of students was raised with the internet and is skilled at technology, that doesn’t mean they want everything to be digital, particularly when it comes to learning.

In fact, Patel says, it’s not just young learners who are looking for a personalized learning experience these days. “I think we’re all quite used to personalization these days and kind of have an expectation of curated experiences,” she says. “We are working in a much more interdisciplinary workforce, you need to be able to connect the dots.”

Gen Z Sours On Tech Jobs, New GMAC Survey Finds

Source: GMAC


For GMAC’s latest report, the association of leading graduate business schools worldwide that administers the Graduate Management Admission Test tailored its survey to what was foremost on the minds of B-schools seeking to appeal to the new generation of prospective students. “We asked additional questions in our survey this year because meaningful shifts in prospective student demographics are underway,” says Joy Jones, CEO of GMAC. “Understanding candidates from Gen Z – now the largest generation applying to business schools – is critical as programs plan for expanding the pipeline down the road. We want to take a closer look at the trends among women, first-generation, and U.S. underrepresented candidates to equip schools with the knowledge that ensures every talented person can benefit from the best business education for them.”

One major trend that B-schools have definitely been on top of: Gen Zers see sustainability and CSR (corporate social responsibility) as essential in a graduate program. Nearly half of those in the cohort who were surveyed said so, along with 43% of all candidates.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • Full-time MBA programs continue dominance while in-person experience trumps for Gen Z: Gen Z is most interested in the two-year MBA while millennials are most interested in the one-year MBA. Despite growing up as digital natives, Gen Z also has a strong preference for in-person study, with 80% of Gen Z reporting a preference for this modality compared to 69% of millennials.
  • Flexibility speaks to women candidates as interest in the technology sector stagnates: Overall global preference remains with in-person learning, but online and hybrid programs have made inroads, especially with women, first-generation, and millennial candidates. “There is no doubt that these programs play an important role in the overall equity of graduate management education, attracting candidates who rely on flexible program delivery and may not otherwise pursue a business degree,” says Anthony Wilbon, dean of Howard University’s School of Business and a board member of GMAC.
  • The United States remains the top consideration as a study destination: As Covid-19 concerns fade, candidates are again looking to study abroad, with 84% of candidates from Asia say they are looking to study outside of their country of citizenship compared to 79% last year, along with 81% of candidates from Europe, up from 77% last year. Interestingly, the trends driving candidates to study in places like the United States and Western Europe have not changed since last year. The U.S. remains the most preferred study destination, with 42% of respondents indicating interest, followed by Europe (37%) and Canada (9%).

Users of this data must take into account the limits of the survey. For one thing, U.S. respondents account for a mere 17% of the sample, even below the 20% from Africa. For another, as the GMAT test has lost significant marketshare to the rival GRE exam, fewer people register on GMAC’s site to get ready to take the GMAT test. The surveys are sent to registered users of that site one month after they sign up and then supplemented by respondents from GMAC Tours, BusinessBecause, and registered users in India of the NMAT exam acquired by GMAC. So the sample is also likely to miss many prospective students who apply to programs where a standardized test is not required.

Read GMAC’s full study here.


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