The skills we lack: Millennials are falling behind in the workplace
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The skills we lack: Millennials are falling behind in the workplace

There’s a lot of talk on the Internet about millennials. With a whole different set of ideals and life goals than older generations, millennials have often been opting for interesting or challenging jobs, for example, versus a position that pays well. Though millennials offer unique skills to their workplace, studies show that they’re also coming to their jobs less prepared in certain aspects – particularly in the United States. Learn how exactly millennials are falling behind and use these shortcomings to inspire you to improve your soft skills and continue your education beyond university.


what skills do employers want


What skills do employers want that millennials lack?


1. Literacy

A report looking at data collected by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) found that American millennials have skill deficiencies, including a lack of literary skills. Compared to other countries, American millennials have scored especially low in applied literacy in work environments. In fact, the US PIAAC scores for millennial workers in the US (ages 25-34) are the same as millennials in the least educated countries in the study. The average score for American millennials in literacy was 272 compared to the 282 average among participating countries. In countries like Finland and Japan, only 19% and 23% of millennial workers didn’t meet the threshold for “proficiency” in literacy. In the US, half of millennials scored below that point.


2. Practical math and numeracy

The same report that found American millennials falling behind in literacy also found that the same was true in practical math and numeracy. US millennials tied for last place with Spain and Italy, with an average score of 255 in the assessment, compared to the average 275 (out of 500 total points). Only one third of US millennials reached the proficiency mark in numeracy – the opposite of in Finland and Japan where only one third of millennials didn’t reach the proficiency mark.


3. Problem solving in technology-rich environments.

Contrary to the common belief that millennials are the tech-savvy ones, in the US millennials didn’t perform well when looking at smart use of technologies. The US tied for last with the Slovak Republic, Ireland, and Poland in this category. Maybe having a bomb Instagram account isn’t exactly what employers are looking for in their employees…


what skills do employers want


4. Working as a team

Though the independent spirit of millennial CEOs and entrepreneurs has been often applauded, there’s a downside to being so individualistic. Millennials tend not to be the best team players, often rated low in teamwork among employers. Keep this in mind the next time that you’re about to drag your feet during a group project. The ability to work well in a team is an important and highly-valued soft skill. If you master it, you’ll rise above your peers.



Apply now to hone these skills at an international internship and to stand out from your peers.




1. based on Stressed?, by aaayyymm eeelectriik, CC-by-2.0

2. based on Millennials Jam Workshop: Youth and ICTs beyond 2015, by ITU Pictures, CC-by-2.0

3. based on Office, by David Martyn Hunt, CC-by-2.0

Photos and blog by Elizabeth Trovall

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!