Social Innovation Learning Lab
Research and Insights
The Gen Z Index is a collaboration between Young Social Innovators and Amárach Research. The Index measures annually the sentiment of Generation Z - those born between 1995 – 2009. Young Social Innovators is happy to share the results of this research, which aims to gain deeper insight into the feelings, attitudes and concerns of this youth cohort and to understand the issues that are impacting them.
Gen Z Index 2022: Part 3 (June 2022)
A Generation that Wants to be Heard
Gen Z has long been identified as a conscientious and altruistic generation, taking an activist, hands-on approach to trying to solve the world’s problems. This rings true for Ireland’s young people who make it clear that they want a greater say in the policies and planning that will shape the future of the country they are to inherit.
Engagement in political and democratic processes is high on their agenda with over half believing that young people should be able to vote at 16. They are firm in their belief however that Ireland is unlikely to follow the example of Scotland and Wales when it comes to reducing the voting age within the next 20 years.
More that Money When it Comes to Career Choice
It’s not all about the money for Gen Z who rank ‘doing something you love’ as the most important consideration from a career perspective.
Despite unaffordable living costs being the number one greatest future fear for the majority of Gen Zs (79%), and financial security (30%) now overtaking ‘making a difference in the world’ (24%) as the greatest sign of a successful life amongst this cohort, salary is the most important career consideration for only a small proportion of young people (7%).
A significant number of young people (43%) believe that their lives and careers lie outside of Ireland which is a reduction since the previous research wave (57%), however should still be seen as a cause for concern. It remains to be seen what policy makers and employers can do to convince young people that Ireland can indeed provide them with the future they desire.
Education for a New Generation
A desire for an alternative approach to education is apparent amongst Gen Zs who overwhelmingly believe that the Leaving Cert does not adequately prepare them for their future career paths (80%).
This follows concerns expressed by young people in a previous research wave (2019) that there is too much emphasis placed on third level education in Ireland (83%) and that pressures stemming from exams was one of the main reasons why being a teenager today is more difficult than it was for their parent’s generation (36%).
It is clear the current education system is not serving Gen Z well on several fronts and it will be interesting to see if current senior cycle reform plans and efforts to promote alternative avenues to third level college can address these concerns.
Gen Z Index 2022: Part 2 (April 2022)
A Generation Disillusioned
Climate change is the #1 future concern for 78% of young people and the vast majority (88%) are not confident that we are doing enough today to tackle the issue. Nearly nine in ten young people do not believe the government is doing enough to address the climate crisis and 4 in 5 believe that companies are also not doing enough. Over half of young people believe that Ireland won't hit its key climate goals within the next 20 years.
Ready to Respond (mostly)
Gen Zs are already taking or willing to take many actions to help mitigate climate change and protect the environment. Recyling, reducing food waste, limiting the purchase of plastic wrapped food, using public transport and buying second had clothes are the most commonly reported ways in which Gen Zs are willing to act. While Gen Z is very cognisant of the sacrifices and behaviour change required to improve our environmental outlook, there are some sacrifices that might be a step too far for them such as limiting overseas travel, eating less meat and showering less often to reduce water consumption.
Gen Z Index 2022: Part 1 (April 2022)
A generation in turmoil.
Mental health concerns continue to be the biggest issue facing young people living in Ireland today. When asked to sum up the mood of their generation, the new prevailing response was ‘anxious’ representing a 113% increase since the Gen Z Index 2019. Stressed and depressed were the next most common mood descriptors. Fear and anxiety about the future has overtaken school and exam stress as a major contributor to these feelings, however depression and anxiety continues to be the number one biggest issue facing young people today. Some of the more positive mood states have seen their popularity plummet with significantly fewer young people describing their generation's mood as motivated or enthusiastic.
Looking forward to a (not so bright) future.
Gen Z are fearful and worried about the future. Unaffordable living costs and climate change are by far the two most significant concerns for young people when they think about what the world might be like in 20 years’ time. In a significant change since 2019, financial security has overtaken making a difference in the world as the greatest sign of a successful life for young people which is no doubt linked to their anxiety around future costs of living.
Covid-19 Youth 'Check In' Survey (April 2020)
Young Social Innovators and Amárach Research, checked in with teenagers (aged 16 19) across Ireland through an online survey designed to find out how they are coping in the midst of Covid 19. This survey highlights a number of themes of how young people are coping during the COVID 19 pandemic.
- There is a mixture of emotions among young people at present while some remain calm, others are anxious or depressed.
- Young people in Ireland are staying informed.
- They are following the guidelines.
- Staying connected to their friends is paramount.
- They want to help out in the community.
- They are hopeful for the future.
Gen Z Index 2019: Part 3 (November 2019)
A Desire to Make a Difference
In recent times there has been an increased level of civic participation, political awareness and social obligation among Ireland’s young people across a
range of pressing issues. What is particularly interesting is the way in which this drive to do good may shape their future employment choices. If there is a strong interest in the public sector as the research suggests then the public sector must be accommodating, and display a dynamism which can attract and retain young people’s talent. When one also appreciates that the desire for financial security (20%) is almost half that of a sense of duty to make a difference (39%), it suggests that Gen Z are attracted to, and driven by more than just work perks and wages.
The Brain Drain
Despite young people’s aspirations and ambitions to make a difference, it remains to be seen if such efforts will take place at home, with 57% of those surveyed saying they think they will work or live outside of Ireland in the future. Gen Z are coming of age in an era where the world is more interconnected and easily accessible than ever. While time spent abroad can be beneficial to an individual’s professional and personal development, as well as to their outlook and worldview, this particular finding should be cause for some caution among employers and policy-makers.
Genx Z Index 2019: Part 2 (July 2019)
A Generation Connected
Generation Z lives in an 'always on' 'always mobile' world that allows instant connection to anyone, anywhere, anytime. This generation doesn't remember a time before smartphones and they are the first to be born into social media. The smartphone has become an extension of this generation and the vast amount of time they report spending on it reflects this reality. Young people in Ireland report spending an average of four hours per day on their smartphone, with a high proportion spending six or more hours on their phone.Only 3% spend one hour or less on their smartphones daily.
A Generation Conflicted
Young people overwhelmingly feel that life as a teenager is more difficult today than it was for their parents. While getting good exam results to go to college and securing a good job are major factors in this belief, social media also plays a huge role in why they feel life as a teenager today is more challenging. Scrutiny, peer pressure and unrealistic beauty and life satisfaction perpetuated through social media are contributing to a feeling of anxiety among this generation. At the same however, the majority report that social media has impacted their lives positively.
Gen Z Index 2019: Part 1 (May 2019)
Who are Gen Z?
Research across the world on Gen Z is suggesting that this generation are stressed and anxious, and it seems that young people in Ireland are no different. When asked to sum up the mood of their generation in one word, the prevailing word was stressed. While school and particularly exam stress are contributing to these feelings of being stressed, depression and anxiety is the number one issue facing young people in Ireland.
Young people today are not just living in the now, they are thinking ahead to the future, whether that's their own future, ‘will I get a job?’, or the future of the planet. On a positive note, while they are worried and concerned, maybe this is the generation who are actually going to tackle the big issues of our time. Particularly for climate change; they want to be a part of the solution. While this generation has a very strong voice of their own, they do not feel listened to by the Government or their community. However, encouragingly, the majority do feel listened to by their parents.