Do Millennials Have the Right Stuff?

Posted by Melissa Meunier on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 @ 11:00 AM

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As more and more of Generation Y seek employment, we continue to see a staggering number of this group unemployed. In fact, 40% of unemployed workers are millennials. While the workforce is competitive and there is an increase in the number of Traditionalists staying longer in the workforce, the list of what is preventing this generation from finding employment grows longer.

According to David D. Burstein a millennial expert (and of the generation), millennials are more global, more tolerant, more diverse, more educated, more connected, and bigger than any generation before them. He is correct, yet this generation is also troubled by stereotypes like ‘entitled’ and ‘narcissistic’. Can a group of individuals glorified for their strengths and plagued by weaknesses have that much trouble succeeding in the workplace?

On paper these behaviors, characteristics, and values are applied to the whole rather than individuals. Not every millennial is denied a job or has failed to get a promotion. Sure, this generation has experienced struggles finding jobs, but their generational traits may not be to blame.

In the survey “The Shocking Truth About the Skills Gap” by CareerBuilder, 52 percent of employers report they cannot fill job vacancies because applicants are unqualified, and 61 percent claim to have hired a person who does not fully meet the stated requirements for a job.

There is a skills gap, and it’s between the skills required from a business perspective and the ones taught in colleges and universities. CLO’s ‘Ask a Gen Y’ video blogs raises the question “Are Millennials Prepared to Work?”  Editors Laura Walsh and Luke Siuty discuss the conflict between academic and business leaders and whether this generation is well prepared to enter the workforce. 

Gallup found that only 14 percent of the American public and 11 percent of business leaders believe that new graduates are prepared for the working world. However, a shocking 96 percent of Academics think they are ready for the workforce. 

The millennial editors discuss that businesses and universities are looking at different skills and trying to compare them; undoubtedly where the gap lies. Schools look at soft skills like communication, critical analysis, reading and thinking. Businesses look at experience and years on the job as more important, and take the soft skills for granted. 

With such a contrasting view, it’s not hard to believe that academic curriculum does not align with real-world business expectations. Skill deficiencies within the generations will always exist, especially as technology evolves – it's the nature of the beast – and not the shortcomings of this younger generation.

Until the academic and business worlds meet to change education curriculum, business leaders will need to adapt. Millennials have the right stuff, maybe not the exact skills they expect, but they are bright, smart, and talented individuals with a lot of potential for growth. A candidate with those characteristics, regardless of which generation they fall into, should be what any employer would want to hire.

Topics: talent, Millennials, workforce challenges, behaviors

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