Leading up to the World Youth Skills Day, HBR Ascend (hbrascend.org), a mobile-first learning platform for graduating students and early career professionals from Harvard Business Review, released its 2019 edition of its annual HBR Ascend Youth Skills Survey providing valuable insights about the new perspectives, attitudes, and opinions of millennials around work, workplace, success, and skilling. The survey covered over 2,700 respondents from more than 100 countries and 6 continents.
“There are several existing notions around millennials and their approach towards work. The HBR Ascend Youth Skills Survey clearly reveals that Millennials understand the impact of technology and automation on the future of work and highly value knowledge over current credentials. They are hungry to learn and believe that soft skills like Strategic Thinking, Negotiation Techniques, Networking Skills, Business Communications, and Analytical Thinking will be game changers for their careers.” says Vivek Chachra, Country Manager (India), Harvard Business Publishing.
He adds, “We have always relied on real empirical evidence to stay true to our promise of being a true growth partner for young professionals. The insights from the 2019 edition will play an important role in customising our offerings as we continue to invest in enhancing employability skills of millennials.”
Key findings from the HBR-Ascend’s 2019 Youth Skill Survey include:
The Self-Assured Millennial vs. The Employer
Almost three out of four respondents say they are confident about their technical ability. Less than 10 per cent expressed a lack of confidence in their technical skills. However, the employer’s views seem to contradict this self-assurance. For e.g. The ‘SHRM Global Skills Shortage report 2019’ shows that 83% of HR professionals face trouble in recruiting candidates with high technical capabilities.
The Need to Upskill
One-third said that education helped them build necessary technical skills but not soft skills, while 15% of respondents indicated that their education provided them with a holistic grounding of both technical as well as softer skills.
The desire for improving employability skills was reported in high measures. Respondents across the globe are hungry to learn and are willing to invest their own money for acquiring skills in data science (38%), creative and innovative thinking (33%), analytical thinking (30%), business communications (29%), and AI and automation (27%).
The Digital Natives
HBR Ascend Youth Skills Survey 2019 also highlights the various mediums of preference to learn employability skills. While a vast majority across the world prefers learning through articles, blogs and research publications, the majority in India (57%) and South-East Asia (56%) prefer learning by watching videos.
Barriers to Performance
The top barriers to performance at work reflected more culture-related factors than a lack of personal development efforts, including office politics (27%), a lack of training and development (26%), unclear/changing job roles (22%), a restrictive work culture (20%), and a lack of collaboration (19%), and excessive workload (18%).
While in the United States, 40% of respondents ranked office politics as the top barrier to high performance, in South-east Asia, 30% of respondents blamed a difficult boss as their biggest barrier.
Attention Employers! Engage your youngest workers
An alarming alert to employers, according to the survey, almost one out of two of respondents said that they experience periods of disengagement at work. Around 18% report that they feel engaged only when working on challenging and interesting projects.
The respondents’ employer of choice is defined by five key characteristic: flexible work conditions (27%): a clear career path with advancement opportunities (25%); strong training and development programs (20%), a clear vision of corporate goals and mission (20%), and passionate and engaging leaders (19%).
Additionally, they also expect their employers to look beyond business and make a sincere commitment to important social and political causes.
The Impact of AI on their work
Around 61% of respondents indicate that they are aware that aspects of their work could be replicated by artificial intelligence (AI) bots. Only one out of four are confident of their role not being replaced by a robot whilst nearly, 9% lack clarity around the impact of AI on their role.
In India, 65% feel that some of their work could be done by a robot. Whereas, in developed nations like the United States, only one out of three respondents show confidence about their role not being taken over by AI.
HBR Ascend, a digital-first learning platform for early-career professionals and graduating students, recently conducted a survey in June 2019 to understand their skills gap and barriers to success. A lighter version of this survey was conducted in 2017, the results of which can be read here. A total of 4,043 members took the survey out of which 2,756 members responded to all questions. Incomplete survey responses were not used for the purposes of this evaluation. The readers of HBR Ascend (to whom the survey was served) are heavily concentrated in the Indian subcontinent, South-east Asia, United States, Australia, and Africa.
Click here to Download the report to know more about the survey, methodology and region wise insights.