Gen Z betting on digital for sustainable future

Gen Z: Government needs to invest more in technology to solve biggest problems including NHS waiting lists, climate change and skills for the future.

Posted 19 January 2023 by Christine Horton

More than a third of UK Generation Z have little or no confidence that public sector recovery investments would deliver a flourishing economy within 10 years.

Another 39 percent of the 18-26 year-olds are undecided, with 21 percent having high or total confidence, according to Dell Technologies’ new Future-Proof report.

However, almost two-thirds (65 percent) of survey respondents believe that technology will play an important role in the fight against climate crisis. And Gen Z recognise the value of acquiring new digital skills for future careers – 74 percent consider learning a new digital skill as essential to making them more employable.

But elsewhere, 54 percent of Gen Z have low or neutral confidence in their personal data being stored compliantly by healthcare providers.

Sustainable future

Additionally, more than a third (41 percent) of Gen Z would be willing to accept short-term economic limitations such as lower GDP growth for a more sustainable future.

With many of Gen Z willing to bear short-term economic limitations, they ranked sustainable energy (50 percent), enabling a circular economy (36 percent) and more sustainable public transport (29 percent) as the top three areas for governments to prioritize. A fifth of respondents (20 percent) also expressed support for greater sustainability education for citizens.

With Gen Z making up approximately 30 percent of the world’s population, and expected to dominate 27 percent of the workforce by 2025, decisions made by the UK government today, will impact this generation greatly over the coming years.

Richard Rawcliffe, VP and general manager UK Public Sector, Dell Technologies, said: Gen Z is the group that will be most impacted by public and private investment decisions taken today as the future workforce that will facilitate and maintain long-term, sustainable recovery. Gen Z comprises digital natives passionate about social issues such as sustainability. There is an opportunity to earn the support of Gen Z for longer-term strategies that put digital transformation and sustainability at the core of economic growth strategies. Interestingly, the data revealed that acceptance of investing today for a digital and more sustainable tomorrow increases to 47 percent amongst those likely to vote, making it potentially a vote winner as the UK looks to drive our future-facing economy.

Strong cybersecurity backbone

Respondents said that this digital future must have a strong cybersecurity backbone. More than half (55 percent) feel there is a need for robust legislation and higher investment in cybersecurity to protect national infrastructures and ensure private businesses meet tough standards. To make this happen, and to improve trust in governments, 31 percent of respondents want private and public sectors to work together and hold each other accountable. 

“It’s clear that Gen Z individuals are tuned in to both the politics and policies shaping their future,” said Dr Eliza Filby, generations expert & historian of contemporary values. “The time between now and 2025 elections provides an enormous opportunity for policy makers to work with this part of the electorate on the solutions we need to start building today, for the challenges we will face tomorrow.   

“Gen Z is the first generation of true digital natives. Despite an imbalance in access to digital skills through education, the research shows Gen Z see tech playing an important part in influencing what matters to them: access to healthcare and sustainable infrastructure. The real take away from the research is Gen Z are actively identifying the areas they want to see change; with a clear vision of the role they play as individuals, in bringing about that change.”  

Digital poverty gap

Rawcliffe added that more must be done to address both the digital poverty gap in society, as well as the digital skills gap, through improvements in the quality and access to digital learning.

“It will require constant collaboration between businesses and schools to keep pace as technology evolves and bridge this digital skills gap. What’s up for grabs is a flourishing society and economy which includes everyone. And we’re excited to continue working with our partners in the public and private sector to make this a reality,” he said. 

Gen Z sees access to devices and connectivity for disadvantaged groups (33 percent) and connectivity in rural areas (22 percent) as the investment areas government should prioritise to help close the digital divide.