Young people today are vocal about their values. They care deeply about the future of the natural environment, mental wellness and want to work in an organisation where their values are aligned.
Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce operates as the Regional Delivery Partner for the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) East Coast region (Hawke’s Bay & Gisborne). Working at the front line and interacting with over 400 senior secondary school students each year, Grace Hogan, YES Regional Coordinator for East Coast, feels “privileged to work directly with young minds, offering support but also hearing their ideas for the future of business in the East Coast region.”
Grace has been astounded by the proactive attitude of rangatahi she has worked with. “These students are driven and genuinely believe in their power to change the status quo.”
YES is one of many programmes designed to showcase future career paths, prospects and unlock young people’s potential.
The programme seeks to inspire young people by giving them a taste of entrepreneurship. Teams are encouraged to set up a real-life business, develop a product or service and operate with real profit and loss.
So, what is our role as mentors to help guide our future leaders?
We all have the responsibility to embrace, encourage, and support rangatahi to trust their creative instincts and lend them the knowledge that we have learned the hard way.
Business environments are complex, dynamic, and rapidly changing. Unleashing the potential of youth will enable our society to continue to grow, develop and prosper. It’s our turn to embrace change and pave the way forward for the next generation of future thinkers.
Previous generations grew up knowing the only way to see the world was to experience it yourself, on a classic Kiwi OE. Then, steady jobs, linear career paths, and hard work maintained stability.
Whereas Gen Z grew up as our nation’s first true Digital Natives, giving them a previously unseen view into the wider world. This process of viewing the world through a digital lens has offered a broad insight, seeing more opportunities for work, the changing face of business, and deep, inherent knowledge of the plight of climate change.
While young Gen Zers are only just entering the workforce, we will likely see them seeking benefits such as values-driven employment, solid work-life balance, diversity, and environmentally-conscious employers.
These values are directly related to the common traits we already see in these young people.
Are our young people up for the challenge? In a word – yes. And while we must guide them with a steady hand to support them, they will flourish.
Grace notes that in 2021 the most popular National Excellence Award category that teams entered was sustainability. Teams took pride in responsible business practices and solemnly accepted their responsibility to the natural environment.
And they were proud to promote themselves as champions of change, guided by their teachers, mentors, and community.
This is one of the most exciting developments I have seen in my career working with young people, and I can only hope that this trend continues into the future of Hawke’s Bay business – as we see the next generation stand tall, proud, and take their place as champions of change.
Ultimately, YES helps quintessential Gen Z values translate to the business world, which this new generation of business leaders can use to lead values-driven organisations to success.
There are multiple ways you can support the development of these young minds, to find out more about how you can get involved visit the Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce website.
Karla Lee is CEO, HB Chamber of Commerce