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Young people around the world are confident in their abilities with modern technology, but see a clear disparity in technical confidence and job opportunities among developed and emerging economies, according to a new report.

Tech and careers

The survey of 1,000 16-25 year olds Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, South Africa, the UK and the US, commissioned by tech consultancy Infosys, found that young people acknowledge 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.

In emerging economies such as China and Brazil, 68% of respondents are concerned that a lack of tech skills will make it harder for young people to advance career prospects. This, in part, could provide motivation for those young people to seek out the technical skills they need. Currently, some 78% of those surveyed in Brazil and India are confident that they have the necessary skills for a successful future career. In contrast, the sentiment is lower in developed countries, including France (53%) and Australia (51%).

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%).

In developed economies, the youngest workforce feels acute pressure to find a good paying job. According to the research, 76% of young workers in France believe their job prospects are worse than those of their parents’ generation. This is in stark contrast to emerging economies surveyed, where a minority of youth surveyed, for example 49% in India, believe their job opportunities are worse than those of the previous generations.

Education

The report also indicates that the disparity between emerging and developed economies' technological understanding could correlate to developed markets' long-established education, employment and economic strategies. Emerging economies surveyed have less institutional inertia to contend with, having embarked on their economic rises more recently, and therefore can more flexibly embrace emerging technology.

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.

Future workforce

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.

Between 78% (Brazil) and 65% (China) of 16-25 year olds are willing to completely retrain if required. Around 80% of young people across the markets agreed that continuous development of skills is essential to be successful in work.

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).

Dr. Vishal Sikka, CEO and Managing Director, Infosys, said: Young people around the world can see that new technologies, such as artificial intelligence...will enable them to reimagine the possibilities of human creativity, innovation and productivity. To empower these young people to thrive in this great digital transformation, our education systems must bring more focus to lifelong learning.

"Everyone of us can reimagine our circumstances, innovate and create, but our education systems must instill new ways of thinking, which include finding the most important problems to solve, collaborating across diverse groups and learning from quick failures - so that each one of us can find out own meaningful, purposeful work."