Generational attitudes to work

A study by Adecco, a recruitment firm, says that 20% of employers in the UK feel that UK school leavers make better workers than university graduates. The skills that were found to be most lacking were soft interpersonal skills and, somewhat surprisingly, hard computer skills. Not surprising, basic numeracy and literacy were also cited as a major problem.

Overall, younger staff compared badly with older staff, especially in areas relating to timekeeping, teamwork and loyalty. On the plus side, younger staff did display entrepreneurial spirit and were drivers for change.

This more or less fits with other research I’ve seen (e.g. in Australia), although in the UK’s case it’s likely to be connected with the expansion of the university sector, which is putting to many people through the wrong courses and is devaluing degrees. I suspect the ‘because I’m worth it’ attitude of young employees is also linked to parenting, education and generous levels of state support, although this won’t last for long in the current economic climate.

The survey concludes that employers regard attitude and personality as being more important than qualifications. This reminds me of someone at Singapore Airline who once told me that cabin crew were hired for personality “because we can teach them just about everything else.”

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