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Digital divergence: More than ¾ of young people lack the practical skills they most want to use in their future careers

More than three quarters of young people lack the skills they hope to use in their future careers, according to a study of 3,000 16- to 21-year-olds from analytics database Exasol. As we approach World Youth Skills Day, the study raises questions over the skills that are prioritised by educational institutions and employers.

“There’s a balance to be struck between the digital skills that D/NATIVES have been naturally immersed in, and the practical skills that they’ll need to use in the modern workplace,” commented Peter Jackson, Chief Data & Analytics Officer, Exasol. “Young people recognize that technical and vocational education and training shouldn’t just develop their digital and data-driven skills, but also help them to interrogate and communicate challenges and narratives.”

These youngsters – coined D/NATIVES by the report due to their immersion in and competency in using technology from a young age – consider communication (70%), decision-making (68%) and problem-solving (68%) skills the ones they most want to form a major part of their future careers.

However, these are the skills that D/NATIVES appear to lack. Only 25% feel that they’re highly effective communicators, with even poorer scores for problem solving (23%) and decision-making (18%), which limits the usefulness of their digital skillset.

This isn’t due to a lack of appetite to learn: 70% of young people saw regularly gaining new skills and experiences as important drivers for their future, while 69% want to be able to make a difference in the world, and 68% to their employers.

If it’s not an enthusiasm or motivation problem, where is the gap? The research results raise questions over whether young people are getting the education they need from teachers and future employers to help them develop these crucial capabilities. Given the appetite for practical skills and the D/NATIVE’s natural competency for technologies, it appears that not enough opportunities are being presented to young people to develop the former.

Peter Jackson added, “This raises new questions for educational bodies, businesses and society as a whole, with regards to how we educate people and young people. D/NATIVES have an appetite to make a difference to their future employers, who in turn have a responsibility to harness their sense of ambition and enthusiasm for learning. We have a responsibility to help young people achieve their potential and incorporating ways for these skills to be developed as part of the curriculum is important.”

More insights into the attitudes and understanding that young people currently in higher education or just entering the world of work have towards data can be found in Exasol’s report: “D/NATIVES: The future of your business

About the research

Exasol commissioned Censuswide to survey over 3,000 16- to 21-year-olds in the UK, US and Germany and carried out qualitative discussions with three groups of 18- to 25-year-olds in the respective countries. In the UK this included 1,005 16- to -21-year olds.

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