Scholarship Stories: Generation Z’s Views of Care and Care Careers

From general to mental health nurse, then PhD student to chairperson and editor-in-chief to Fulbright Scholar, Ann Gallagher’s journey to a career in applied/practical ethics – philosophical and empirical – has been unconventional. Currently she is a Professor of Ethics and Care who is now working on ‘Generation Z’s Views of Care and Care Careers’ with funding from the Burdett Trust for Nursing.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ann: I am Professor of Ethics and Care, International Care Ethics Observatory (ICE), School of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. My role includes teaching and research on the theme of ethics and care focusing on: how we sustain and promote ethical care; and how we are to understand and reduce unethical care.

Why is Generation Z’s views of care and care careers important?

People are living longer and while many experience good health and well-being into their later years, many others require care and treatment in response to ill-health and disability. A skilled workforce is required to respond effectively and ethically to the health and social care needs of people across the lifespan. However, due to demographic changes, there will be a shortage of people available and willing to respond to care needs. 

Generation Z is the generation of young people, born between mid-1990’s and mid-2000s. Those aged 13 to 14-years-old, now receiving full-time education in England, are currently considering career options. The increasing need for care provides many interesting and worthwhile work opportunities for people of all ages, as formal caregivers and as volunteers. 

Engaging young people in conversations about care is crucial as they will be the main care workforce of the future, However, little is known of their views regarding what is meant by care and by care careers. 

This project aimed to learn about the views of Generation Z regarding care and care careers. In England, this generation of young people was born into a period of financial and economic austerity and have grown up with a familiarity with technology. Hence these young people are also known as the i-generation. 

As Generation Z is at the age of making choices regarding subjects for future study which will shape their future career choices, it is interesting and important to explore their views of care and care careers. 

Who does this research impact?

Understand this generation’s views of care and care careers has the potential to impact on the care workforce and on care-recipients. If we understand the values and drivers of this generation, we will be in a better position to recruit and retain them in care practices.

Responses from Generation Z suggest they are conscientious and thoughtful regarding the local and global need for care. There is an awareness that a balance is to be struck between caring for others and self-care. A distinction is made between care work involving, for example, voluntary work and acts of kindness and a care career as paid work. 

Technology has a key role in reaching Generation Z and in innovative education and care practice need to engage hearts and minds. 

It is recommended that recruitment and retention of Generation Z to health and social care will be enhanced by employers’ prioritising workforce wellbeing, respectful work environments and financial and other rewards, comparable with other careers. To engage and retain young people who choose care careers, project findings suggest that technology will have a key role in providing regular feedback and support

How did Burdett Trust’s funding help the project?

The funding enabled us to employ a researcher to conduct the data analysis, and also covered travel to and from the research sites.

Funding from the Burdett Trust also enhanced the reputation and legitimacy of the project and is likely to have impacted on school willingness to participate.

How will the project grow and develop in the future?

We are now replicating the project in other countries and will be in a position to compare findings with Brazil, Russia and other European countries.

Where can people go to find out more about the project?

To see the project’s executive summary, visit the International Care Ethics website:

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