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Preparing Today’s Digital Disruptors to Be Tomorrow’s Leaders

February 25, 2016 by Robert Enslin 113

Today’s youth are the digitally native, socially responsible men and women of the millennial generation, which according to a Deloitte human capital trends report, will constitute 75% of the workforce by 2025.

This digital-savvy generation is poised to be the future disruptors in the digital economy.

Poised for Greatness – Yet Challenged

While the youth of today have the potential to create a world unimaginable in the future, this generation faces challenges unlike any before it. The United Nations estimates that the number of unemployed youth around the world is close to 75 million. The rate varies globally, with economically struggling countries – such as Spain, Greece, Mexico, and many in the Middle East – having rates of 40% or higher.

The generation is also challenged by a skills gap. Right now, 73% of CEOs believe the lack of employees with key technical skills is a threat to their company’s growth. And they could be worried for good reason. Though many Millennials are more educated than their parents or grandparents, the digital world is changing so rapidly that they now need new, evolving skill sets to improve employability. A World Economic Forum report estimates that 65% of children entering primary school today will work in completely new job types that don’t even yet exist.

How do we prepare youth for something that doesn’t exist yet? To ensure that this generation and those that follow have the right skills for the digital economy, organizations – whether they are public or private sector, or nonprofit – must take swift action.

Future Proofing Our Youth for a World Unimaginable

The best approach to bridging the skills gap is with programs that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This generation may be expert at digital skills such as texting and creating social media brands, but the digital economy needs more than that. It needs problem-solvers, collaborators, and global thinkers. These skills, combined with education and training that is STEM-focused, will future-proof today’s workforce and ensure success as the world transforms digitally.

Many organizations around the globe are already undertaking the challenge of closing the wide skills gap that exists today. Generation is an intensive boot camp-style training program created by the McKinsey Social Initiative for youth in India, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, and the United States. This initiative integrates technical skills, behavioral skills, and mind-set skills so that boot campers can be fully job-ready and operate at peak productivity when entering the workforce. They boast an impressive 90% placement rate for its graduates.

With a placement success rate of 70% or more, Academy Cube is another successful up-skill initiative. The program combines e-learning with job searches, using an intelligent matching system that identifies the skills and qualifications applicants are missing. Academy Cube then offers STEM-focused trainings to participants. Participants are connected with top European companies with employment opportunities.

The Global Entrepreneurship Summer School is a six-university initiative in Munich, Mexico City, and Shanghai. The program gathers young students from all over the world to form interdisciplinary teams who develop ideas with both a sustainable impact for society and a self-sustaining, profitable business model. Graduates, such as Taita Ngetich, have gone on to create successful businesses that have a significant economic and social impact on the communities where they live.

With the goal to integrate digital literacy in schools, Africa Code Week helps address the fact that nearly 35% of Africa’s youth lack the basic skills and technology training required to perform a job. Launched in the fall of 2015, close to 90,000 youth from 17 African countries have participated in more than 3,000 free coding workshops thus far. The students learned the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century digital workforce and become key contributors in Africa’s economic development.

BTECH is an initiative that combines a high school and college curriculum and credits with a strong focus on business and technology. Four programs with college and high school partners in New York, Boston, Oakland, and Vancouver prepare the youth that attend for the problems of tomorrow.

Empowering the Future Workforce

The vision and purpose of SAP is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Today’s youth is no exception. We are committed to partnering with public and private organizations around the globe on programs to inspire today’s youth to become tomorrow’s digital disruptors and innovative entrepreneurs.

It is our responsibility – yours and mine – to give our youth every opportunity possible to create the world in which they want to live. They are indeed poised to become the next generation of corporate leaders, enterprise customers, and game-changing partners. But only if we provide them with the education they need today. The opportunity is there. We can all play a role to help prepare this generation for the future and a world that is unimaginable today.

This story previously appeared on SAP Business Trends.
Top image via Shutterstock

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