Young people in developed economies are significantly more pessimistic about their job prospects and less assured in their technology aptitude than their counterparts in emerging economies, according to research commissioned by IT outsourcing provider Infosys.
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The study, conducted by independent research agency Future Foundation, polled 9,000 young people (between the ages of 16 and 25) in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Respondents across all geographies recognized the importance of technology skills to their job opportunities; majorities in both emerging economies (74 percent in India and 71 percent in China) and developed countries (60 percent in France and 59 percent in the UK) said that computer sciences were key educational subjects.
However, respondents in emerging markets were much more confident in their tech prowess than those in developed nations. For example, 81 percent of young men in India considered themselves capable or highly capable in their computer science skills vs. just 51 percent of American men. Likewise, 70 percent of Indian women said they were capable or highly capable vs. just 42 percent of American women and 33 percent of women in the UK.
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Those in developed economies also suspected that they might have fewer career opportunities than their parents did. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of young workers in France believe their job prospects are worse than those of their parents’, according to the research. By contrast, only 49 percent of youths in India believe their job opportunities are worse than those of the preceding generation.
Education opportunity and strategy matters
Many emerging markets have taken a strategic approach to technology education and training, using their economic growth to finance new strategies and opportunities. As a result, says Holly Benson, vice president and organizational transformation leader at Infosys, “youth in emerging markets see mostly upside—new and unprecedented opportunities that simply never existed before. Youth in developed economies see a significant amount of downside—automation reducing jobs, globalization reducing domestic jobs. Many fear being able to maintain their parents’ standard of living.”
What’s more, young people in developing regions haven’t had as much exposure to education. “Youth in these locales are more likely willing to make do with lesser amounts of training and to fill gaps with initiative and experience. Many have a ‘let me get after it’ enthusiasm for learning on the job. This translates to confidence and optimism,” says Benson. “In contrast, youth in developed nations have generally grown up with great educational advantage. They expect to be fed a steady diet of preparatory training and they feel uncomfortable when the preparation has shortcomings or gaps. They are less comfortable simply jumping in, particularly when the game is getting tougher.”
Acquiring tech skills for a successful future career
Concerns about the future know no boundaries.In emerging economies such as China and Brazil, 68 percent of respondents said that they are worried that a lack of technology skills will make it increasingly hard for young people to advance their career prospects. But that may be a motivating factor to seek out technical training; 78 percent of respondents in Brazil and India are confident that they have the necessary skills for a successful future career. That sentiment is much lower in developed countries: 53 percent in France and 51 percent in Australia.