Gen Z is pursuing more climate-focused career paths than older generations, a new report found.
They are enrolling in more sustainability-focused college programs, The Guardian reported.
Addressing global climate change is a top concern to 37% of Gen Z, per Pew Research Center.
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Young adults born in 1997 onward are graduating from college and entering the workforce as the Earth is experiencing some of its hottest years on record.
Studies show members of the cohort known as Generation Z are acutely aware of the disastrous effects of the warming planet, and Gen Z’ers are now pursuing career paths centered on addressing the climate crisis more so than older generations, according to a Monday report from The Guardian.
College officials told the outlet the number of students seeking out environmental-related degrees and careers is rising.
The report noted that the University of Southern California said in June it was launching a program aimed at instructing its 20,000 undergraduate students on “how their majors intersect with sustainability and the environment.”
The Guardian noted, too, that New York University’s environmental studies program has seen growth in enrollment. Christopher Schlottmann, the program’s global curriculum coordinator, told the publication that having some form of environmental specialization can help new graduates land jobs.
One Gen Z’er, 25-year-old Mimi Ausland who founded a company that aims to remove plastic from the ocean, told The Guardian: “I cannot imagine a career that isn’t connected to even just being a small part of a solution.”
Environmentalism is on the rise across industries
The interest reflects growing, mainstream recognition across industries that the planet is in dire need of sweeping commitments to mitigate climate change.
The Biden administration’s regulators have signaled that they will start more closely scrutinizing companies’ environmental commitments and disclosures, and global mutual fund assets labeled as sustainable hit a new record of $2.3 trillion in the second quarter, according to Morningstar data.
It is an increasingly in-demand specialization for industries like financial services. Banks including Citi, HSBC, and Barclays have sought out employees with sustainability expertise, Bloomberg News reported this spring.
Pew Research Center found in a report published in May that 76% of Gen Z respondents said addressing the climate crisis is one of their biggest social concerns, while 37% said it is a top concern.
The Guardian report also found that 32% of Gen Z respondents said they have taken at least one major environmental-related action in the last year – like “donating, volunteering, attending a rally, or contacting an elected official” – while 23% of Gen X and 21% of baby boomers reported participating in such actions in the last year.
“Once you learn how damaged the world’s ecosystems are, it’s not really something you can unsee,” Rachel Larrivee, a 23-year-old sustainability consultant based in Boston, told The Guardian. “To me, there’s no point in pursuing a career – or life for that matter – in any other area.”
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