April 13, 2024

Success is an important reward for our hard work, and many people feel that it is part of their identities as a person. But recent generations are having to redefine what it means to be successful, and even what it means to be an adult. The economy and the job market are changing and with it our definition of growing and building a successful career and life. 

Gen Z is starting to define themselves by their achievements in school and their work, as compared to most adults who say it is their family and upbringing that defines who they are. Today’s young adults also don’t think that growing up is just about how old they have become, or about getting married, having children, or owning a home as-is thought traditionally. Young adults today are saying that adulthood is marked by financial independence from those who raised them, full-time employment, and some are simply saying moving out of their parents’ home and being able to maintain living on their own makes them an adult.

Success is another thing that is being redefined by the younger generations. Gen Zers say that by the age of 30, they want to finish all of their education, start a career, gain financial independence, and to follow their dreams. But 58% of young adults can’t afford the lifestyle they are used to without parental support or some other external help.

Many are looking at the education and student loan debt trap and reconsidering things. 41% of young Americans would choose a trade school over college because learning a specific trade leads to a better chance at career opportunities and higher earning potential among other reasons. Compared to a Bachelor’s degree, trade school can be better in many ways. The average annual salary for trade school graduates is $65,000 a year and trade school graduates experience a lower unemployment rate than college graduates. While lifetime earnings for those with college degrees are still higher, those gains are often offset by crippling student loan debt.

Jobs that you can get from trade school have higher job security and trade school graduates have less than half of the unemployment that regular college graduates experience. This is caused by the fact that the cost of trade school is significantly less and even after paying off nearly 3 times the debt, most college grads are still making the same as their trade school counterparts. 

Trade school graduates are also getting jobs after school more quickly as Baby Boomers are retiring and leaving job openings that need filling. 80% of contractors are struggling to find skilled enough workers to do the jobs that Baby Boomers used to fill such as plumbing, roofing, HVAC, electrical, and many more. 60% of metal workers say labor shortages are their biggest concern. Other manufacturing shortages include CNC operators, industrial maintenance techs, and most general skilled workers. And 30% of hospitals are having trouble finding suitable workers for important jobs such as lab techs, LPNs, CNAs, and more. 

Find out how today’s young adults are becoming tomorrow’s successful and how they are changing how we think about the path to success here.