Clearwater, FL – May 24, 2018— As graduating high school seniors scramble to finalize college plans, a new shift is unfolding in higher education as admissions and academic teams grapple with changing career aspirations amongst the largest generation in U.S. history—Generation Z. New findings from Digital Media Solutions (DMS) reveal that a smaller percentage of high school graduates are inquiring about programs that can lead to higher-paying careers such as law (-90%), technology (-47%), business (-40%) and engineering technology (-27%) in comparison to the prior year. For decades, a college degree has served as the basic requirement to qualify for a number of higher-paying jobs. Yet today’s labor market continues to transform due to technology advances and always-on communications mixed with a unique dynamic of multi-generational staffers that make up the most diverse adult population in American history.
“As more of Generation Z graduates high school and explores entering the workplace, higher education institutions are seeing first hand a new series of motivational factors in the inquiry stage unlike ever before,” said Jeff Meola, Consumer Insights Director at Digital Media Solutions. “Gen Zers have seen their family and friends struggle financially from the 2009 recession and student loan debt and also manage other lifestyle stressors, so their career pursuits differ from previous generations. Academic institutions and employers need to understand these motivating factors to engage this group that wants to enrich their lives via meaningful, flexible and rewarding careers.”
This snapshot report covers trends in the inquiry generation activities of higher education institutions for the period of January 2016-December 2017, with an emphasis on prospective students with a high school graduation date in 2016 or 2017. The data also reveals the most unpopular degrees and higher education programs among high school graduates as attitudes toward working life and a polarizing culture continue to impact the hearts and minds of young people. According to the findings, fewer students are interested in pursuing journalism careers as the idea of “fake news” permeates American culture. At the same time, blue-collar programs, such as mechanics and precision production, have seen an increase in student interest.