An 'X' mark for Generations Y and Z

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2012, 12:00am


A new survey shows that Generation Y employees in Hong Kong lack the skills needed to drive the city's economy forward, with most respondents blaming the education system. The most pressing areas for improvement for Gen Y are their work attitude, a sense of responsibility and interpersonal communication skills.

In a survey by professional accounting organisation CPA Australia among 273 respondents from across the business community, 54.9 per cent said that members of Hong Kong Gen Y are not well-equipped with the right technical and soft skills to sustain and drive the city's growth.

Survey respondents emphasised the importance of developing key soft skills such as logical thinking, communication, management and leadership as opposed to specific technical skills, says Peter Lee, divisional deputy president for Greater China at CPA Australia.

'These skills are applicable across all industries but the important point here is that these skills are required at middle- and upper-management level, which is where the Gen Y will be moving to en masse in the coming years, thus driving Hong Kong's economy,' he says.

The lack of adequate communication skills is a particular cause for concern, adds Lee. 'Communication is highly important in any organisation, whether when you are dealing with your superior, managing your subordinates or talking to your clients,' he says.

No fewer than 55.7 per cent of respondents feel the education system fails to equip Gen Z - those born in the early 1990s to 2000 - with practical skills needed in the workplace.

Lee says that problem-solving skills are critical to success in today's complex business environment, and should be cultivated from an early age.

'There appears to be an unbalanced emphasis on academic success in Hong Kong that can come at the cost of a real-life skill set that includes interpersonal skills, practical knowledge, and a sense of responsibility,' says Lee.

'Qualitative data from survey respondents highlighted the pedagogy common in Hong Kong that involves a spoon-fed type teaching method, which puts emphasis on rote learning as opposed to learning the meaning of content. This is not just due to Hong Kong's curriculum but is commonly accepted across society.'

Academic excellence alone is no longer a guarantee of success. Current and future generations will need to acquire and master a much broader skill set than the one traditionally taught in classrooms, suggests Lee.

'There is doubtless an abundance of gifted students, but in the real world, that's only half the battle. Successful staff must manage relationships, lead teams, think practically and show common sense. The curriculum should take a holistic view, integrating students into real work situations to better prepare them and manage their expectations.'