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The Millennials’ Skill Gap Challenge and How Training is Helping to Bridge the Gap

about 2 years ago by Luigi Muscat Filletti
People discussing in an office

Millennials today are being presented with a variety of educational opportunities which are allowing them to excel academically by acquiring the right qualifications. Yet, it seems to be that a growing concern is that employers are identifying deficiencies in Millennials’ soft skills; the interpersonal, communicative and motivational skill set which allows them to grow on a social level, thus not only benefiting themselves, but also their surroundings.

As discussed in the previous blog, hard skills and soft skills are both of great importance during the recruitment process, so it therefore makes sense that although employers are being presented  with many impressive qualifications by candidates within the Millennial age group, they state that such candidates are falling short when it comes to soft skills, hence coining the term ‘The Millennials’ Skill Gap’, a gap which companies worldwide are working to bridge through the implementation of training programmes for its employees.

What is the Millennials’ Skill Gap, and Why does it Pose a Challenge?

The Millennials’ Skill Gap refers to the lack of soft skills of a great percentage of  the Millennial age group. Individuals within this age group tend to question the importance of soft skills, especially when it comes to looking towards career opportunities in Technology, which are primarily based on one’s hard skills of qualifications and experience. However, the reality is that employers favour candidates who demonstrate the ability to communicate, collaborate and engage well with there colleagues, show leadership and commitment qualities as well as generate a positive vibe within the place of work.

The digital age is directly associated with Millennials who were born and raised amidst the rapid technological advancements which introduced the social media platforms which are being used multiple times within the hour, seven days a week. The increase in time spent online by Millennials has caused many of them to become socially anxious in face-to-face conversations due to their decision not to get out of their comfort zone. As a result, soft skill qualities related to interpersonal abilities has dropped. Many Millennials are also said to be impatient, and it’s easy to understand why - the power and speed of the internet provides a user with uncountable amounts of data at their fingertips, creating a sense of immediacy which Millennials are accustomed with. This need for fast results has caused a great number of Millennials to move away from tasks which do not generate instant success, meaning that they do not appreciate the process and journey of their work as much as they enjoy its rewards. Due to this mentality, Millennials are continuously jumping from one project to another and are showing an absence of patience, loyalty and commitment. The overall attention span of Millennials has also decreased over the years, hinting that their levels of productivity might not be high as it used to be in the past.

Employers are interested in recruiting people, and not machines, and the selected candidate would be one who displays a professional approach to the role in every sense of the word - their soft skills would accompany their hard skills and their will to learn, grow and provide value to a company and its workplace would be easily noticed by the employer. That being said, Millennials may be at a disadvantage when applying for a role, and not only due to the lack of social skills. Many Millennials are also said to lack the required literacy when engaging with colleagues and clients alike, as well as general problem-solving skills which contribute to the daily execution of tasks. Customer service career opportunities do not only demand a good level of social skills, but also skills related to quick and efficient thinking in order to assist customers with their queries. Being open to change and ready to adapt to new environments is also essential, and many employers assess whether a candidate’s soft skills would fit suitably the company culture - individuals looking to kickstart a career in the iGaming industry in Malta must be open to embracing the lively and uplifting company cultures which the iGaming industry in Malta has become synonymous with.

Another issue which Millennials tend to have is a lack of open-mindedness in their work - many Millennials are not very inclined to discuss the adaptation of their work, taking pride in it so much that they close their ears to alternatives. Although they show steadiness in sticking up for their work, this may prove to be a disadvantage in most cases, especially when working with clients who may wish to drop or add on aspects of their work. So much could be said about individuals who are following careers in software development - although web designers and developers must display creative and problem-solving skills, they must also be open-minded to discuss projects with clients.

How is Training Helping Bridge the Gap?

Companies have begun to implement methods of training in order to inform the Millennials they recruit about the operations of the organisation and the ways of the industry. The best way to deal with the problem is to perhaps build from the ground up, so by creating a workplace environment which is supportive of its employees, a company could effectively develop employee’s skills and nurture their talent. Companies already highly consider candidates who are not completely qualified or experienced however display an attitude which is willing to learn and develop, all because they offer on-the-job training which sees well-experienced individuals of the industry to mentor employees.

Now, the same is being done in order to develop employees’ soft skills - Millennials who do acquire the right qualifications but do not display the most desirable soft skill characteristics are still being given the chance to jump on board and take on the role, with training being done to instil in them the interpersonal and problem-solving skills they need to succeed. Programmes are being organised in order to help employees grow their self-esteem and confidence, aiding their overall personal development - workshops which discuss a wide range of topics are being held to help employees in their presentation and public-speaking skills, self-motivation and leadership, professional literacy (verbal and written communication in both digital and face-to-face conversation), as well as their work-life balance and understanding of company culture. In addition, team-building events could also be arranged to allow employees to socialise with individuals across different departments, increasing the company’s diversity.

By having all members of the company attend such activities, from interns to managers, companies would gain trust and loyalty from Millennials who would show increasing respect and understanding in the company’s philosophy as a result of these exercises, therefore bridging the Millennial soft skill gap which is becoming a concern in the recruitment process across all industries.