A nationwide survey of 1300 Kenyans between ages 18-27 looked into the attitudes of Gen-Z towards work, how to make money and their ambitions. High internet penetration and a tough economic environment are reshaping how young Kenyans think about their future and what their expectations of the work environment are.

“I want to be able to manage my work choices, terms of employment, and work schedule”, say Gen Zs in a recent survey by Odipodev and Africa Uncensored.

Money, mental health, vibe, passion, and ability to remote work also made it to the top 5 considerations when Gen Zs decide whether to take up a job or not, according to the survey that examined their fears, views, desires, and who they admire the most.

According to demographers and pollsters, Gen Z are those born between 1997 and 2012, and at 27 years of age, the oldest cohorts in the cluster are now well settled into the workplace.

Undertaken in mid April 2024, the study examined a sample of 1300 Gen Zs from 6 counties: Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu, Machakos, Mombasa, and Meru counties.

Gen Z work attitudes

Tech in particular has revolutionised the world of work, but it has also fostered a24/7 work culture where employees can find it difficult to switch off. The impact of this constant connectivity is mental health issues that Gen Zs cited as a concern, as well as a dip in productivity over the long haul.

Their top dream career was to be self-employed or run a business. ‘Tiktoker’ or influencer came up second, with doctor, engineer, lawyer and any office job following in that order. 22% of Gen Z also say that the current doctors strike and the way it’s been handled has dimmed their hopes of pursuing any opportunities in the medical field.

Significant chunks of Gen Z still want stability. In the survey, desire for corporate jobs within any rank or designation stood out prominently, breaking the age-old stereotype about the loss of allure for 9-5-day jobs among Gen Zs.

A surprising 11% claimed they are interested in alternative careers while 2% admitted they wouldn’t want to work at all.

Influencer culture is reshaping how young Kenyans think about their careers

On the question; do you want to be famous? A whopping 75% responded positively while 25% answered to the contrary. Their response can be attributed to them being digital natives and the constant screen culture that has normalized the affinity for publicity and visibility among them. Gen Zs clearly love and admire their influencers and in fact would like to become just like them given its the 2nd most admired career path.

On the question of fame, 75% of respondents said they want to be famous

Tied to the aforementioned desire for fame, is the recent rise in influencer culture with which personalities across sports, film, entertainment, and music, have utilized their popularity to market goods, events, and services for brands.

This mainstreaming of influencer culture, not as a side hustle but as a full-on career is a long evolution in career choices over the last 2 decades. The growth of influencer as a viable career has risen in tandem with the wide internet connectivity in Kenya, access to cheaper smartphones, and lower internet costs.

Close to 80% of the Gen Z surveyed say that being an influencer is a real job and that they see potential in making a lot of money from it.

Being an influencer is a real job and for majority of Gen Z, there is real money to be made from it

A significant portion of those polled said that the top three things they like the most about their favourite influential personalities is because he or she is a) popular, b) famous or c) entertaining

For Gen Z, Kenya is not the answer.

Four in every five (84%) Gen Zs would take up the chance to leave the country if the opportunity presented itself. Additionally, about 50% of those surveyed (75%) mentioned that they have looked up the visa requirements of at least 1 country that they would like to immigrate to. Even then, only 1 in 10 has applied for a visa, while about 40% of them have applied for a passport.

For those who want to move, the majority still prefer the West, with close to 80% choosing the United States as the desired destination, while 60% chose Europe as their ideal region. There was also a high preference for Australia. One in seven want to settle in an Asian country, and one in ten want to stick to within East Africa but outside of Kenya..

Who does Gen Z admire?

Among the respondents Azziad Nasenya topped the list as the most admired, with Eric Omondi, Lulu Hassan, and Otile Brown taking 2nd, 3rd and 4th slots respectively.

The storyteller Abel Mutua (Mkurugenzi) came fifth while skit-master Crazy Kennar polled sixth in the survey.

Among the politicians Raila Odinga came top, and was also the most admired personality overall in the survey. The current president William Ruto came up second, while Embakasi East MP Babu Owino took the third slot among the most admired. The immediate former president Uhuru Kenyatta as well as Hon. Martha Karua polled 5th and sixth respectively in the politics category.

Hassled in The Hustle

Gen Zs are clearly aware and fairly concerned about the operating business environment both in trade and in the labor market. More than 34% of Gen Zs primarily consider whether the line of work or business is legal and ethical when deciding whether to pursue it or not.

Approximately 23% consider making money to be generally admirable irrespective of how one goes about earning that income. It should be considered that a fair share of the influencer culture has a dark underbelly marred by card fraud, fake lifestyles, forex scammers, and illicit internet work culture in the dark web.

Approximately 1 in 5 said they wouldn’t judge anyone for making money illegally even though they wouldn’t do it themselves. The ‘do you’ culture seems to affect not just lifestyles but to reflect the overall Gen Z beliefs around their relations with their peers and those they admire.

About 8% think giving bribes is inevitable if one is going to be able to make money in the course of their hustle. In this instance, Gen Zs tend to poll much lower than the national average when it comes to acceptance of the kickback culture whether to access state or private services in the country.

You can view the full data here.

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