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An illustration of a Gen Z reaching for the stars AccountingWEB - Talent begins with Z

Talent begins with Z


The current generation of school leavers is poised to meet your talent needs. Rachel Harris, founder of Accountant She and striveX, explains why Generation Z is brimming with potential.

20th Jun 2023
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As a millennial who began my accounting career as a school leaver on an apprenticeship scheme and who now owns one of the UK’s fastest-scaling practices, I feel perfectly positioned to discuss how taking on school leavers can help you to meet your talent needs in a competitive market.

In my practice today, I attract fully qualified, experienced candidates from Big Four firms and I also take on school leavers. My approach is a blended one that prioritises exceptional service levels for clients, top-tier job satisfaction for my team, and a culture of family, support and collaboration.

Gen Z, the digital natives

Okay, I’ve dropped the Z-bomb pretty early in the piece, but we can’t dodge it. If you’re thinking of recruiting a school leaver, Gen Z is your target market. You don’t need to change your whole business to recruit or retain young talent, but you do need to understand them.

Gen Z are true digital natives, having been the first generation to grow up with on-the-go internet at their fingertips. They’ve experienced the domination of social media, witnessed the birth of the influencer and have taken on the fight for climate change – which explains why they’re looking for a new approach to the working world.

Meta recently reported that 79% of Gen Zs believe it’s important to develop new skills throughout life and 77% wanted to stay well informed about things. As we’ve seen the conversation on after-school options open up drastically in recent years, Gen Z know that there is much more to their career options than university, so they could be the perfect pool of candidates for your next apprentice. 

The benefits Gen Zs bring

1. Digital natives

Where millennials grew up in the digital age, Gen Zs were born into it. For an industry like ours, which is deep rooted in technology and cloud-based systems, Gen Z apprentices are able to integrate into their roles with little technical effort.

2. Masters of multitasking

When you’ve grown up watching YouTube while on FaceTime to your friend at the same time as online shopping, is it any surprise that Gen Zs are skilled at multitasking? This ingrained skill is adaptable to almost any working environment, meaning you’ll have no trouble putting this to good use. It could be cross-platform data entry, or as simple as taking minutes in a meeting while contributing to it.


3. TikTok attention span

Gen Zs are constantly absorbing information, often in the blink of an eye. They’ve spent their youth surrounded by apps such as Snapchat and Instagram. This has, however, given Gen Zs an advantage when it comes to absorbing information, as they’re accustomed to receiving a barrage of updates. Gen Zs have a knack for processing information faster than other generations. They are highly adaptable to change, so they can absorb the barrage of updates in Monday’s meeting even when no one else can.

4. Entrepreneurial thinkers

Gen Zs have grown up in a world of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. A world filled with developing technology and new updates. They’ve seen what’s possible and they’re excited by growth and opportunity. This has resulted in a generation of young adults who are starting their careers with an entrepreneurial head on their shoulders, full of ideas.

My top tip to make apprenticeships and traineeships work is to treat your school leavers appropriately – as your future management and key people of influence within your firm. Within my practice, I’ve spent lots of time building dynamic principles into the business that help innovation to flourish. I spend lots of time with my trainees, nurturing their entrepreneurial spirit and turning it into an intrapreneurial spirit.

This article is an extract from our new editorial special report: “Alternative guide to solving your skills crunch”. Download it here to discover practical strategies and real-life examples for recruitment, retention and using outsourcing and automation as alternative solutions.