A recent report on young workers finds a generation positive about technology but unsatisfied in their current formal education.
The report, Amplifying Human Potential: Education and Skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, commissioned by Infosys and conducted by independent research agency Future Foundation, polled 1000 young people per country, aged between 16 and 25, in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Overall, while youth across all surveyed countries understood the role that technology will play in their careers and the need to advance their own skills, there is a clear disparity in technical confidence and job opportunities among developed and emerging economies.
Recognition of the importance of computer sciences subjects
Respondents acknowledged the role of technology skills in securing good career opportunities, with clear majorities in both emerging (74% in India and 71% in China) and developed countries (60% in France and 59% in the UK) stating that computer sciences subjects were key education tools.
IT skills and knowledge surging in emerging markets
The data further shows a large technical knowledge gap between emerging and developed economies. For example, there is a 30% gap between Indian young men (81%) and their counterparts in the US (51%). Among female respondents, the gap is 28% between India (70%) and the US (42%), and 37% with the UK (33%).
Existing education systems failing to support future career goals
In the US, 45% of those polled considered their academic education to be very or quite old-fashioned, and that it failed to support career goals, compared to 37% in China. In the UK and Australia, 77% had to learn new skills themselves in order to do their jobs, as their school or university education had not prepared them for the workplace, compared to 66% in India.
The workforce of tomorrow also understands that as technology increasingly takes away routine tasks, they will need to pursue lifelong learning to develop new skills and focus on “soft” skills that computers will not be as adept at handling.
In terms of retraining if necessary, around 80% of young people across all markets concur that continuous development of skills is essential to be successful in work. Between 78% (Brazil) and 65% (China) of 16-25 year olds are willing to completely retrain if required.
The development soft skills
Apparent across all regions is the role that communications, relationship-building and problem-solving abilities play in modern, technology-driven workplaces. While academic achievement was prioritized by between 50% (South Africa) and 36% (Germany), communications and on-the-job learning and problem-solving polled far higher. Communication skills polled between 86% (Australia) and 79% (Brazil), while on-the-job learning polled between 85% (Brazil) and 76% (Germany).
Gender gap in IT unresolved, wider in Western Europe
Young men, across all countries surveyed, are more likely to have existing IT knowledge and the desire to advance these skills. In emerging markets such as India (81% male to 70% female) and China (68% male to 59% female) as well as developed economies such as the US (51% male to 42% female), the gap is far less pronounced with higher levels of perceived competency in the emerging economies. However, in other developed economies such as France (49% male to 24% female), Germany (49% male to 26% female) and the UK (62% male to 33% female), gender gap in technology skills is significantly wider.
Disruptive forces on the technology job market
Overall, young people are aware that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will usher several disruptive forces in the job market: from the next-gen Internet of Things and Big Data, to work environments that will be drastically changed by automation, artificial intelligence and similar technologies. Today’s youth understands that it must be agile, open to learning and capable of operating in a global environment to build a long-term career path.
Edited from press release by Cecilia Rehn.