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What is the ONE vital skill today’s Youth lack?

Preparing our younger generation for the future workforce.

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it” George Orwell said. But what if the next generation is busy losing a critical skill because the previous generation is creating the problem by constantly solving problems for them? 

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, Complex Problem Solving and Critical Thinking rank as the top job skills of the future. But has Generation Z lost their ability to solve problems? What is happening to the critical thinking skills of our youth? Problem solving is weaved into critical thinking skills. It is the skills which enables people to come up with innovative ideas, to help make effective decisions and solve difficult problems by using common sense. 

Millennials are currently running the show when it comes to business. And not to blow any generation’s horn, but they are quite the problem solvers of note. Developing computers, mobile devices and yes, all these apps that do and think for us. Generally speaking, they have made life very easy. However, the very generation that are amazing problem solvers, might also be the very cause of a cumbersome glitch within the next generation. Yes, we are generalising here, but most of our future generation is growing up not learning to think for themselves and solve their own problems.

More so, most Millennials are also the parents of Gen Z. So naturally they are solving every little problem their children have, depriving them of developing this skill early on. Some are not allowing them to critically analyse and think about the problem they need to solve. Generally, the parents end up managing their teenagers’ schedules, writing their speeches, and doing their homework etc. Many parents might argue that they want to ease the heavy pressures imposed on the kids today. But are they doing more damage than good? Many teens can’t cope because they have not learned to solve their own problems. When they cannot think critically about an issue, they end up not seeing a variety of solutions and because we keep sorting out problems and giving our youth the solutions rather than teaching them critical thinking and problem-solving skills, they tend to experience a sense of entitlement.

Gen Z is the first born pure digital generation. They have no idea what it’s like to live without mobile devises, social media, computers, apps etc. Just imagine…they are growing up in an era where there is an app for everything. Want to learn to play the piano? There is an app for that. Do not need to remember a route? There is an app for it. How do you park your car…wait there is an app for that too. 

One day Generation Z will take over from the Millennials and then what? Most businesses will tell you that there is a distinct soft skills gap among freshly graduated students entering the workplace. This is mainly because tertiary institutions’ primary focus remains upskilling students on hard and technical skills.  Despite the younger generation having more accessibility to training and education than their parents, for example, they still lack much needed critical soft skills to make it in the working world. Therefore, extra soft skills courses and mentors play a big role. 

Innovative technology is constantly developed to think for the younger generation. What would happen if they suddenly had to use a hard copy map to get from point A to point B. Something so simple can become a huge crisis, that may lead to unnecessary anxiety, time management issues etc., simply because problem solving skills were not developed from an early age. 

Although we are generalising, please do not misinterpret this article as us saying that apps and technology are negative. And we are not saying solving problems for someone, whether it is with developing tech or a mom trying to help her child, is a bad thing. And yes, we do agree it does make life so much easier and faster. We are merely reiterating the importance of continuously developing this skill among our upcoming leaders to excel and to cope in the future, and especially in the workforce. 

Think about it. The very essence of a business is solving problems. Businesses are established to render a service to someone who has a problem to be solved. Products are developed to fulfil a need aka solve a customer’s problem. Our youth as the future workforce will need critical thinking and problem-solving skills not only in their personal capacity but also to be able to come up with creative entrepreneurial ideas to give businesses mobility and a competitive edge. The future economy is depending on that.  

To face and solve problems are a daily recurrent whether it is in your personal life or on a professional level. Dealing with a hairbrush that broke in the morning to figuring out a complex financial problem at work. Problem solving is a skill that is here to stay, and we simply cannot afford to neglect this as part of the upskilling of our youth.

Make no mistake…Gen Z’s are extremely eager to learn, and very capable to bring creative flair and innovative solutions to the problems, but they will need mentoring and continuous upskilling from Millennials and their future employers.