Young Chinese more driven than their Western peers

Asia's 'millennials' are keen to work abroad and climb career ladder, international study finds

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 April, 2014, 5:08am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 April, 2014, 8:08am

Lazy, demanding and too idealistic - it's a common conception of "millennials", young people born roughly between 1984 and 1996.

But a new study suggests Chinese millennials are in fact highly ambitious and place greater value on international work experience than their peers in Britain and the United States.

Some 19 per cent of millennials on the mainland expect to be managers within two years of graduating from university.

In India, expectations are even higher, with 37 per cent aiming to be a manager within a year.

Millennials in Asia also value global work experience much more than their Western counterparts, with 65 per cent in India and 47 per cent in mainland China planning to work overseas in the next five years. This compares with 18 per cent in the US and 29 per cent in Britain.

"It's a global world, in which millennials from India and China express a greater interest in participating," said Parveez Modak, Asia practice leader for employee communication and engagement for MSL Group, the public relations company which commissioned the study.

He said that because the modern Chinese and Indian economies were relatively young, most people under 30 were "ultracompetitive", having entered the workplace when their country's economy was starting to take off.

On the mainland, 78 per cent of managers are millennials (aged under 30) or late Generation Y (early 30s) - the highest percentage in the survey. In India, this figure is 75 per cent.

For mainland millennials, North America is their first choice for international experience. Surprisingly, they did not list career progression or money as the key drivers in this decision, but rather "personal development" and to experience a different culture.

American and British millennials placed greater significance on work experience (37 per cent and 25 per cent respectively) than mainland millennials (18 per cent).

While "friend" and "mentor" ranked as the ideal relationship between the boss and themselves, China's millennials preferred a more traditional power structure, with their boss ideally taking the role of "director or allocator of work".

Researchers surveyed almost 1,300 millennials from Brazil, mainland China, France, India, Britain and the US.