The millennial generation has done nothing if not generate a whole lot of chatter around their supposed abilities. One of the most enduring myths has been their status as digital natives that have grown up surrounded by technology, and therefore fully equipped to thrive in our technology driven organisations.
That was certainly the expectation of researchers from Princeton when they administered their Educational Testing Service for the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) recently. The test, which is sponsored by the OECD, is designed to measure the job related skills of adults from over 20 countries around the world.
Alas, when they crunched the numbers and began analyzing the data by both age and nationality, the results were far from as expected. The findings, published in a recent report, show that millenials in America are actually falling way below in the kind of skills that employers are crying out for, including literacy, maths, and even technology.
Amazingly, not only are millennial Americans lagging behind their peers from other countries on these traits, but they’re also scoring lower than fellow Americans from different age groups.
In literacy, for example, young Americans fell below their peers in every single country with the exception of Italy and Spain. Even more alarmingly, in numeracy, American youngsters propped up the league table, coming in right at the bottom.
The Digital Native Myth
Even in the use of digital technology, where the millennial generation are believed to thrive, American youngsters scored terribly, sharing last place in the league table with youngsters from Ireland, Poland and Slovakia.
What’s more, this poor performance against international peers was even evident when comparing the best educated American youngsters. For instance, Americans with a masters degree were still outperformed by their similarly educated peers in countries ranging from Japan and South Korea to Finland and Belgium.
The results revealed that masters educated Americans only managed to out-perform peers from Poland, Ireland and Spain when it came to numeracy, with a total performance ranking them down in the 90th percentile.
“We really thought [U.S.] Millennials would do better than the general adult population, either compared to older coworkers in the U.S. or to the same age group in other countries,” the authors reveal. “But they didn’t. In fact, their scores were abysmal.”
The Implications for the Job Market
The authors highlight the implications for organisations looking to bring in talent from that generation. They suggest that recruiters should beware of overestimating the practical value of a degree. While they reveal that college educated millennials did score higher on the test than their peers without a college education, this should not be seen as a guarantee of their abilities.
See Also: Top 3 Skills Employers Wished Millennials Learned in College
The degree classification may not be an accurate signal that they are skilled in basic English or maths, nor has the requisite level of technical skills to be a success in the job. If you’re interested in how you rank yourself, the test is freely available online, and you can take it via the OECD website here. Let me know how you get on in the comments section below...