More than three-quarters of 16-to-21-year-olds feel their technology literacy far outstrips other ‘soft skills’ they might need for their future careers.
The demographic – coined ‘digital natives’ by researchers from analytics database Exasol, due to their immersion in and familiarity with technology due to high exposure from a young age – see expertise in communication (70%), decision-making (69%) and problem-solving (68%) as those they most urgently need to invest in if they are to succeed when they enter the working world.
The study of 3,000 young people raises concerns over the skills are most prominent and valued across both education systems and businesses today.
“There’s a balance to be struck between the skills that digital natives have been naturally immersed in, and the practical skills that they’ll need to use in the modern workplace,” said Peter Jackson, chief data and analytics officer at Exasol.
“Young people recognise 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” – Peter Jackson, Exasol
“Young people recognise 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.”
Despite a desire to hone their soft skills, these are the exact traits that digital natives fear they lack, with only 25% feeling they are good communicators, 23% thinking they can problem-solve, and just 18% believing in their ability to make sound decisions. This lack of confidence or ability would ultimately limit the effectiveness of their digital skill sets.
Luckily, this group of young people seem hungry to succeed, with 70% seeing the acquisition of new skills and experiences as key drivers for their future, while a majority (69%) are keen to make a difference in the world and to their employers (68%).
With this in mind, are the education system and industries adequately preparing students for the demands of the future? If these results are anything to go by, perhaps not, since the demand for soft skill development opportunities is far outstripping supply.
“This raises new questions for educational bodies, businesses and society as a whole, with regards to how we educate people and young people,” added Jackson. “Digital 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.”
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