Gen Z-AI Workforce   //   October 19, 2023

The numbers behind how Gen Z is really using AI 

This article is part of WorkLife’s special edition, which examines how the jobs and careers of Generation Z professionals will be reshaped and evolve in the AI-informed era. More from the series →

There’s no shortage of chatter about how Generation Z is diving into the world of AI at work. But what’s been missing is the hard data. We’ve gathered up the latest stats to give you the lowdown on how one of the most progressive generations in the workforce is really making the most of this game-changing tech.

Read on to see the numbers behind how Gen Z is really using AI.

Is the new generation of workers excited about AI?

Indeed, they are, but there are a few nuances to consider – like the fact that the technology could eventually make their parents redundant. Social media app Picnic surveyed 2,442 of its Gen Z users and found that 45% of them are concerned AI could replace their parents’ jobs, or the professions they are interested in. The same report found that only 10.7% of participants believed that AI would not be a good thing for society or the world.

In general, a good chunk of young workers are keen to explore the tech though. Nearly 40% of young workers are excited about integrating AI capabilities into their roles, according to a recent survey conducted by Ipsos, commissioned by software company RingCentral that surveyed 1,000 Americans. Surprisingly, 53% even hold the belief that AI could bring about positive changes in the workplace over the long term.

Gen Z watched 50% more hours of online learning content per learner during the pandemic, according to LinkedIn data. And that desire to learn extends to AI. “AI-powered coaching will help everyone,” said Olivier Sabella, vp of LinkedIn Talent Solutions for EMEA and LATAM. “For Gen Z professionals who are new to the world of work and don’t have as many firsthand experiences to draw on when they face a challenge or problem, this can be a really useful tool to quickly access the expert knowledge and courses they need to guide their careers and achieve their professional goals – whatever they may be.”

Are any of them worried about AI and if they will be replaced? 

The short answer is yes. It might sound a bit surprising, considering that Gen Z is often seen as the generation best poised to make the most of the technology. However, the weight of that expectation is actually causing some of these younger workers to feel concerned. That’s the overriding conclusion from a summer study compiled by LinkedIn on 2,037 workers aged over 18 years old. It found that 41% of Gen Z individuals admitted pretending to know more about AI than they actually do. In contrast, fewer than one-fifth (18%) of Gen X workers confessed to the same behavior.

It’s as if Gen Z is grappling with a sense of unease about what they don’t know when it comes to AI. In fact, the study revealed that nearly half (45%) of them are anxious about not being as well-informed about this technology as they feel they should be.

How are Gen Zers telling their boss about using AI at work?

For most individuals, sharing the fact that they’re utilizing AI with their boss could spark some concerns. It might be perceived as gaining an unfair advantage over their coworkers. Interestingly, the apprehension appears to be more prevalent among younger generations than their older counterparts, as revealed by a study conducted by Cint over the summer that surveyed 1,000 people in the U.K. According to the report, 42% of Gen Z and 40% of millennials feel this way. The concerns grow slightly among Gen Zers in Australia where 45% say they are nervous to tell their manager they are using AI, according to a different Cint survey of 925 participants in July. And in the U.S., a Cint survey of 1,000 people found that 44% of Gen Zers would be nervous to tell their manager they were using AI.

“We’ve done sessions with teenagers where they’ve shown a reticence to use AI because they think it’s ‘cheating’,” said Michael Jones, CEO of venture fund Science Inc. “It’s like there’s a cultural acceptance that needs to happen before these tools are more widely embraced not just by younger generations but older ones too. Using AI can’t be seen as cheating when the reality is it’s just a new tool.”

How much potential does Gen Z think AI really has?

Predictably, this generation holds considerable optimism for AI. According to the aforementioned study from Picnic, a significant 44.5% of those surveyed believe that AI has the power to transform the world. 

In many ways, it’s already reshaping their lives. 

For example, Gen Zers are more than twice as likely as baby boomers to use AI for financial advice, according to the Ipsos survey of 1,276 adults in the U.S. It found that 20% of Gen Z adults are “somewhat or very likely” to use an AI-powered financial advisor vs. only 9% of boomers and those who are older. 

“I’ve noticed that people who aren’t part of either Gen Z or millennial generations have been less adamant about using AI in their daily processes,” said Luke Lintz, 23-year-old CEO of e-commerce company HighKey Enterprises. “The others seemed to be more stuck in their own ways of thinking where they see AI as a threat to them and their jobs.”

Jessica Davies contributed reporting.