Nearly half (47%) of Generation Z is willing to accept short-term economic limitations, such as lower GDP growth, for policymakers to invest in a longer-term strategy that promotes more sustainable growth, according to new research from Dell Technologies.

The research across 15 international locations captures Gen Z adults’ (18 to 26 years) voice regarding social and economic recovery strategies. Almost two-thirds (64%) of survey respondents believe technology will play an important role in the fight against climate crisis.

With many of Gen Z willing to bear short-term economic limitations, they ranked sustainable energy (42%), enabling a circular economy (39%) and more sustainable public transport (29%) as the top three investment areas for governments to prioritize. A quarter of respondents (25%) also expressed support for greater sustainability education for citizens.

“Gen Z will arguably be the most impacted by public and private investment decisions taken today and will facilitate and maintain a long-term, sustainable recovery,” says Aongus Hegarty, president of International Markets at Dell. “There is an opportunity to earn the support of Gen Z for longer-term strategies that put sustainability at the core of economic growth strategies.”

Gen Z’s confidence that public sector recovery investments would deliver a flourishing economy within 10 years is split: a third globally (32%) have low or no confidence, while 38% are undecided and 29% have high or total confidence.

Understandably, there are geographic differences, with Singapore (56%) and Korea (41%) having the most respondents with high or total confidence. Japan (47%) and Brazil (49%) had the highest number of respondents who had low or no confidence.

Respondents said that this digital future must have a strong cybersecurity backbone. More than half (56%) 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, 38% of respondents want private and public sectors to work together and hold each other accountable.

Closing the digital skills gap and digital divide

Gen Z recognises the value of developing the necessary digital skills for their future careers. Three-quarters (76%) consider learning new digital skills essential to increasing future career options or plan to acquire them.

Respondents feel their education could have better prepared them with digital skills. Over two-fifths (44%) said school only taught them very basic computing skills, and around one-in-10 (12%) did not receive any education in technology or digital skills. Over a third (37%) claim school (under 16) didn’t prepare them with the technology skills needed for their planned career.

To help bridge the digital skill gap, a third (34%) of respondents suggested making technology courses at all levels of education more interesting and more widely available. A quarter (26%) believe mandatory technology courses up to 16 years will encourage young people into technology-driven careers.

“It’s clear that Gen Z see technology as pivotal for their future prosperity,” says Hegarty. “It is now up to us – leading technology providers, governments, and the public sector – to work together and set them up for success by improving the quality and access to digital learning. Forty four percent of Gen Z feel educators and businesses should work together to bridge the digital skills gap and, with the speed at which technology continues to evolve, this will require constant collaboration.”

In response to their views on where governments should prioritise investments to help close the digital divide experience across different locations, demographics and socio-economic groups, Gen Z sees access to devices and connectivity for disadvantaged groups (33%) and connectivity in rural areas (24%) as the most important focus areas.

The research also found:

* To support economic growth, improving healthcare services (21%), investing in education to help close the skills gap (11%) and investing in sustainable/green infrastructure (11%) were the top three priorities globally amongst Gen Z.

* Over half (57%) of Gen Z have low or neutral confidence in their personal data being stored compliantly by healthcare providers.

* Over half (55%) of Gen Z consider flexible and remote working as an important consideration when choosing an employer.