The Stress of Gen Z Entering the Workforce

By Briauna Benson on May 20, 2022

The stress over Gen Z entering the workforce is at an all-time high. After graduating college, we often ask, where do we go from here? For many, the short-term goal is to celebrate but, the long-term goal is when to start your career. For the future of Gen Z, the labor market isn’t looking so hot. The chapter of Gen Z entering the workforce has begun to kickstart their careers and the job market is recuperating but the younger generation is facing difficulty entering and navigating the workforce. More than ever, college graduates are, working in roles that are not in their field of study and don’t require having higher education.

via Pexels

According to, this is largely due to the pandemic-induced recession, which will impact their future employment and financial security in the long run. The pandemic has caused the demographic of young adults that are about to or have graduated college to re-evaluate their career goals and are settling for low-wage paying jobs in the meantime. Despite being known as highly skilled with modern technological advancements, remote learning has been rough. A study from Mt. San Jacinto college found that 44% of Gen Z will change their education plans because of covid, 40% are contemplating where they’ll go to college, and 34% are less likely to enroll in the next semester. Remote learning has isolated them from the extracurricular activities they enjoyed at school. Another study called The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research revealed that 65% of Gen Z participants view education as an extremely important part of their identity. In addition, the study also found that being able to maintain relationships with their peers, having fun, and being happy is difficult. Altogether, both studies confirm that the pandemic has had a negative impact on the mental health of Gen Z, leaving them stressed out and struggling to achieve their educational goals.

The shift from in-school to virtual learning has made it hard for them to actually learn. Since education plays a role when seeking employment opportunities, this detriment in their education can cause an insecure future for employment they may not be prepared for. A study called Meet Gen Z surveyed over 3,000 Gen Zrs across 11 countries and discovered results that suggested there is a lack of soft skills required for Gen Z to enter the workforce. However, the study also suggested that Gen Z is ready to complete basic workplace tasks.

What Gen Z is prepared for:

  • 67% showing up to work on time.
  • 57% teamwork and meeting deadlines.
  • 56% working with customers.

What Gen Z is unprepared for:

  •  26% Negotiating
  • 24% working for long hours, public speaking in front of large crowds, and networking.

By 2025 Gen Z is expected to make up 27% of the workforce. As the pandemic has entered its third year, Gen Z entering the workforce will continue to be a struggle. One in five feel like their education hasn’t prepared them enough to be managed by someone or resolve work conflicts. A third of Gen Z is concerned that a lack of professional connections and experience may negatively impact how they function at work. A lot of this has to do with a rising number of entry-level jobs requiring a minimum of at least 3 years of experience. A bachelor’s degree and even an internship are just not enough.

The few main reasons why entry-level jobs have become hard to find are due to:

  • Unrealistic job requirements.
  • An unprecedented number of qualified candidates in the labor market.
  • Internships being considered entry-level jobs.

The stress of Gen Z entering the workforce can be determined by such factors:


Entry-level jobs are supposed to be a stepping stone for one to establish themselves in a field of work. With the increase of employees being promoted, keeping entry-level job positions filled with “qualified“ employees becomes harder, making it difficult for recent grads to break into their field. Experience has become harder to obtain because the pandemic has caused young college students to have their internships canceled and fewer offers for paid internships. With fewer opportunities for paid internships, employed students who can’t afford to take off work are discouraged from applying.


Another reason why Gen Z entering the workforce has become difficult is due to competition. Employers have less time to look through applications as there are many applicants for the same position. In return, companies are less willing to offer jobs to those attempting to start their careers. The high-level competition in the labor market will further require one to stand out in a crowd of 4 million college graduates with a 7 to 1 ratio of potential employees to available jobs. Having a bachelor’s degree is less likely to set one apart front the rest.

Lack of availability

The most obvious reason is that entry-level jobs are lacking in availability. Availability has decreased by 68% in the past 3 years. The downward spiral in the economy forces companies to rescind job and internship offers to make up for profit losses. Also, companies don’t want to invest in training for newcomers in entry-level positions if they can use technological advancements as an alternative. With companies taking advantage of what technology has bought to the workplace, many tasks that once required a team of individuals to complete can be done by one or none in less time. This has reduced the need for interns and entry-level workers.

Despite these economic setbacks, the good news is that Gen Z is aware that the pandemic has hindered their ability to develop soft skills. The awareness of having a skills gap can push Gen Z to develop their soft skills and set themselves up for success. A survey of over 2,400 Gen Z students, reported that 92% of them can identify what soft skills they possess and they know that such skills are critical to thrive in the workplace. The survey also shows that Gen Z is willing to try new things, as it was selected that “stepping out of your comfort zone” was the best way to hone soft skills. Also, the response was followed by being open to frequent feedback and communication. The discovered that nearly a third of Gen Z entering the workforce would be motivated to work at a company with a supportive manager. Gen Z will require management that is willing to invest and be patient with aiding their development. Management is a top concern when looking for work in numerous studies for Gen Z.

The main takeaway is not to insist that there is no hope or options for Gen Z entering the workforce. The pandemic plays a prominent role in how Gen Z hasn’t had the advantage of developing soft skills like previous generations. However, their determination to work and learn will work to their advantage for leadership that is willing to invest in them.

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