London - They are still at school. But Generation Z is already powering its way into the world of work.
Motivated, creative, and – crucially – tech-savvy, the world’s two billion under-17-year-olds are sparking a wave of entrepreneurialism.
They are the first batch of “digital natives”: most of them are younger than Google, which launched in 1996.
And having watched their baby-booming parents struggle up work ladders, they plan to put their expertise into practice as early as possible.
Poster girls and boys of the generation include Nick D’Aloisio, 18, who taught himself code at 12, created the news app Summly at 15 and sold it to Yahoo for $30-million (R319m) last year.
Another, Beth Reekles, 18, has won a three-book contract with Random House publishers after her first book The Kissing Booth was released online – and shared 19 million times.
And this year, DreamWorks handed a multi-million dollar film deal to 15-year-old Maya van Wagenen for her memoir about school dynamics, Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Greek.
They are leading a change of tide, with youngsters born into a recession desperate to “make something of themselves”.
Dan Schawbel, founder of research firm Millennial Branding and author of Promote Yourself, told MailOnline: “Generation Z has everything at its finger tips.
“You can start taking classes online or connecting with experts before you’re 10 years old.
“Teenagers are now giving influential TED (the nonprofit devoted to ideas worth spreading) talks, building their reputation and networking before they have even left school.
“The majority of them would rather be entrepreneurs than employees.
“It means there is a huge emphasis on alternative education: Do I need to pay for school or should I just invest in my own business?
“I think it’s going to be a positive thing, but it is the first generation to see it play out so we don’t know what to expect.”
New research suggests today’s teens and tweens are focusing on their big move – rather than wiling away time on social networks.
More than 75 percent of Gen Z aim to turn their hobby into a full-time job compared with 50 percent of the generation before, according to a survey by recruitment agency Intern Sushi.
Four in five pupils between the ages of 11 and 16 believe they are more driven than their peers.
Popular culture is saturated with powerful youngsters – from Romeo Beckham, modelling at the age of 10, to Lorde, who at 17 has won two Grammy awards and landed a commission to soundtrack the next Hunger Games film.
The majority of England’s World Cup squad was born in the early to mid-1990s, and some of fashion’s most influential bloggers have yet to reach university.
But it seems many also want to change the world.
Two thirds of under-17-year-olds want to have an impact on the world with their jobs, compared with a third of the generation before.
With social entrepreneurship now one of the most popular career choices, the figures also revealed a quarter of 16-to-19-year-olds are currently volunteering.
Leaders in this field include 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban and survived to become an activist.
Another is Logan Laplante, 13, who has shaken up debate in the education sector by promoting his concept of “hackschooling”: breaking from the structure of organised education.
His first talk has amassed more than five million views online, and sparked numerous responses from leading figures in the schooling world.
And 19-year-old journalist Rene Silva, from Brazil, has already published his first book, having set up a newspaper at the age of 11 and live-tweeted a police raid on his neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro at 17.
It is a shift in priorities that appears to have been sparked by the wave of unemployment and the rise of tuition fees.
Ina Miskavets, senior consumer and lifestyles analyst at research firm Mintel, said: “Having come of age in an era of rising self-employment and new ideas driven by rapid advancements in technology, children and teens are beginning to aspire to one day owning their own businesses.
“This is becoming a trend, especially in light of increased fees at English universities, making some question the benefits of higher education.”
However, there are fears this tribe of youngsters, in their bid to succeed, are spreading their focus too thin. Ika Erwina, a retail and technology analyst for Mintel, said: “Kids and teens increasingly live a sedentary lifestyle.
“These digital natives are interconnected and tend to divide attentions across multiple platforms and channels, prompting impatient behaviour, quick-fix mentality and instant gratification.
“Their loyalty is likely to mirror this trend, spreading thinly across brands and easily switched.” – Daily Mail