Last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, we had the chance to be part of a Facebook Live event about the career challenges facing young people today. It was organized by the Alliance For YOUth, a Nestle-led initiative supported by 20 other international companies including Nielsen. The initiative’s goal is to provide young people around the world with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed at work, directly addressing this demographic’s heightened unemployment rate.
For several years now, Nielsen has contributed to the Alliance For YOUth in many ways, from creating employment toolkits to offering internships and apprenticeships. Most importantly, we have also lent the power of our data science, conducting key research to help increase the Alliance’s understanding of the youth unemployment issue and advance its cause.
Ahead of the World Economic Forum, we conducted a survey of more than 2,500 young people between 18-30 years old in 27 countries to better understand the challenges for young people joining the workforce.
We found that youth from different parts of the world perceive different skill sets to be most important when it comes to finding career success. For example, young people in the U.S. view communication and teamwork as critical competencies, while young people in the Middle East and Africa see technical skills related to science and technology as crucial.
What was consistent (and heartening) across the board, however, was the finding that young people today are not that different from previous generations. They want stability, the dignity of a job, a happy family, and they want to save a little money.
Also affirming was the discovery that young people strongly believe that companies can contribute to building a better future for them. Today’s youth are optimistic about the role of business in our society, and they’re looking to companies to lead the way in solving major world problems.
We should take to heart these findings. Our companies all have specialized resources that can be deployed for the greater good. By giving just a sliver of our time and expertise, we can make a real impact on issues of consequence in the global community.
On a personal level, helping early-career professionals is very important to me. I found my way in the corporate world to some fantastic roles early in my career thanks to coaching and guidance from people who took a genuine interest in me.
My advice for anyone just starting out is to focus on soaking up knowledge and honing your leadership skills. With artificial intelligence and technology evolving rapidly, we can’t anticipate exactly what skills and knowledge will be relevant three years from now—or even six months from now. At Nielsen, we interview for curiosity, lifelong learning, and leadership abilities. For entry-level positions, we hire raw talent.
I also encourage young people to develop intersectional, complementary interests. The future of jobs will be about data science and medicine, technology and the humanities, etc. Combine technical skills with reasoning. Machines can carry out repetitive processes, but critical thinking is where humans add value.
This article was originally published by Pat Dodd on LinkedIn. Interested in more career advice? Ahead of the Alliance For YOUth event, we asked our associates to share their thoughts on what it takes to thrive in today’s professional world.