Apr 5, 2023 - News

When it comes to work, Gen Z wants to make a difference, survey finds

Illustration of the earth with a bandaid

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The vast majority of teens view a dream job as one that will make a difference, a new University of Minnesota survey found.

Driving the news: 90% of the 1,000 U.S. high schoolers polled by the U's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences said it's important to pursue work that could make the world a better place, such as addressing hunger or environmental conservation.

  • 88% value working for a company that is "dedicated to making a positive impact on the planet."

Why it matters: Gen Zers — people born between 1997 and 2012 — will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025, per the World Economic Forum. Where and how they direct their professional energy will shape the world for generations to come.

Zoom in: Technology was the most popular career path at 44%, followed by health care (24%) and education (17%).

  • A combined 37% of the students were most interested in pursuing work in agriculture, natural resources or environmental sustainability.

Between the lines: The results mirror other research suggesting young people are looking for purpose and personal fulfillment in their work.

  • Finding a job they'd enjoy was a motivating factor for more than 4 in 10 students. Just 14% said salary was a top priority.

Yes, but: A separate Axios/Generation Lab survey of college students around the country found that companies students feel are "doing good in the world" aren't necessarily the same places young people say they want to work, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.

  • Patagonia topped the list of "good" companies, but was cited as a dream job by just 1% of respondents.

The intrigue: Google, which took the second spot for "good" companies, was the most attractive employer among the 2,067 college students and recent graduates polled by Axios/Generation Lab.

  • The federal government came in second for desirable workplaces. No major Twin Cities companies made the list.
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