What the new generation of STEM employees want from the workplace

Generation Z (Gen Z) workers – especially those that have graduated in the field of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) – are in hot demand in both Australia and New Zealand. But this generation, perhaps more so than those preceding it, need to be heard and catered to in the workplace.

“Many industries are facing a critical skills shortage and STEM has been highlighted as a key focus area to further bolster local manufacturing,” explains Masayuki (Masa) Mase, country anager for Universal Robots Oceania. “When trying to attract top, young talent to our sector, employers are finding that Gen Zs are in search of true job satisfaction over experience and job security.”

Gen Zs are set to make up over 30% of the Australian workforce by 2025 and while they are proving to be loyal to their employers, they are after engagement, communication, a highly digitised environment, work-life balance, fun incentives and activities within the workplace. These digital natives place great emphasis on the use of new-age technologies in the workplace, such as smart factories, human-robot collaboration and machine learning.

“Graduates and junior employees in the fields of STEM are extremely sought-after by employers and in a country with a notable skills shortage, these graduates know they are spoiled for choice,” Masa says. “Today, they are in search of employers who tick all these boxes.”

The use of technology plays a major role in attracting new age workers in the fields of STEM, and central to this is robotics.

“Many employees – particularly younger employees – like the idea of working with new-age technologies and want to work alongside robots.”

Cobots are easy to program, easy to deploy and safe to work with, and they can assist many of the boring and repetitive jobs that employees usually don’t enjoy. “What’s important to remember is that many engineering students are already well acquainted with cobots as many universities have deployed these for practical learning in the classroom. These students expect to leave the dull, dangerous and dirty work to the robots, so that they can focus on value-added tasks that are more fulfilling.”

And while cobots help to attract the younger generation, they also come to the aid of the aging workforce. In France, cobots are being used to improve the working conditions for older employees who hold the know-how in their trade.

By relieving workers of these dangerous and – over time – sometimes debilitating tasks, it is possible to retain these older and more experienced employees in their posts. This is often critical for businesses, as these workers have mastered the essence and the process of the company and are at the heart of the production. It is this type of knowledge that employers want in their company and for these skills to be transferred to successors in the business. The older and more experience workforce is capable of defining the most appropriate strategies to improve productivity and quality. 

Masa believes that employers who aren’t embracing robotics, could be left behind.

“In the automation era, it’s crucial that businesses make use of cobots to relieve employees and unleash improved productivity, safety and efficiency while creating a work environment that suits the curious, younger minds of Gen Zs”.