‘Our generation Y survey is one of the most comprehensive of its kind’

During my recent travels as CIMA president I have noticed that one of the hot topics in many regions of the world concerns how generation Y – today’s group of 20- and 30-somethings – might shape business in the future.

Pinning down the characteristics of generation Y is a little more difficult. A number of people claim to be experts in capturing the motivations of this group, but I wonder what generation Y-ers think about all this themselves.

As I outlined in my previous column, leaders in government, business and academia urgently need to address the high level of youth unemployment worldwide and the ongoing skills gaps in many professions – accounting included.

CIMA is committed to helping solve these problems by providing a global pathway for a better-skilled workforce. And we are working on how we can accelerate this process.

As I write, I have just read the preliminary results of CIMA’s global generation Y survey. This is one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind and will draw together enough in-depth data to give a clear picture of generation Y’s career aspirations.

We will then compare these findings with the results of a second global poll that asks companies what qualities they are seeking in their generation Y employees.

We sent our first survey to 130,000 people, aiming at those aged between 15 and 33. Over the next few months the institute will analyse their responses in depth to build a profile of generation Y in different parts of the world.

From my own interpretation of the results, one of the most interesting findings relates to what generation Y-ers look for in a prospective employer.

Given the choice, two-thirds of the respondents said that they would prefer to work for an organisation that shared their values and fitted in with their lifestyles, as opposed to a company that offered them big financial rewards.

As the dust settles from the global economic downturn, I think this is a telling sign of the times.

We also asked our sample what they thought employers were looking for in terms of skills. More than three-quarters said they thought softer skills were most important at entry level.

When it came to both middle-management and senior levels, they rated professional management skills as most important, followed by soft skills and advanced technical skills.

I will be interested to see how employers respond to this same question in the second survey. When it came to career development, most of our generation Y respondents told us they thought that the responsibility should be shared equally between themselves and their employer.

Fewer than 10 per cent said that their employer should provide for all their training requirements. This is another interesting nugget of information to put into the pot.

Reassuringly, when our finance- based respondents were asked which accounting qualification they would choose, most opted for CIMA, saying they viewed it favourably because it would enable them to achieve a globally recognised standard.

This could be another sign that the new CGMA designation is striking a chord with the business leaders of the future.

The final results of the generation Y survey may have a slightly different tone once they have been reviewed and weighted, but it is fascinating to get an idea of what’s going on inside the heads of the next set of business leaders.

The real value of this study will emerge once we combine it with the results of the employers’ survey.

In the meantime I look forward to meeting many more generation Y-ers and discovering at first hand how CIMA can help to fast-forward their career development.

How has the institute helped your career? We’d like to hear from members and students about how the CIMA qualification has accelerated their progress. Email your story to: responses@cimaglobal.com

Illustration: Jörn Kaspuhl/Dutch Uncle

21/08/2013

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