Asia’s millennials ready for digital economy careers (and robots): Telenor survey

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Asian youth are excited about future job prospects in the digital economy, but still prioritize human-centered skills when it comes to workplaces of 2020, according to the results a pilot online survey released by Telenor Group.

The survey, which assesses millennials’ attitudes about their future career, technology’s impact and the skills they need to be best prepared for the jobs of tomorrow, found that Asia’s young adults embrace the importance of technology yet see career success as requiring both technical and human skills.

Results show a strong enthusiasm for digital jobs, and 100% of respondents say robots in the workplace will be a part of our future.

The “Jobs of the Future” survey obtained 4,200 respondents aged 15 to 25, in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It was conducted via targeting through the Telenor Group Facebook with a sample size of 700 secondary school, or university students per market used in the results analysis.

“Our Facebook channel reaches an active, young – and largely Asian – following, so we felt that this would be a great place to pilot such a survey,” said Sheena Lim, Director of Social Media, Telenor Group. “We thought this would combine the fun, engaging side of social media surveys with potentially interesting insights into Asian youth attitudes on technology and their future careers.”

Digital technology (and robots) key to future careers

An average of 63% of youth aggregated in all six nations say that mobile/internet technology will be “important” in their career by 2020. Indicating just how important the majority think it is, only 1% in Pakistan and 1.4% in both Singapore and Bangladesh conversely said that technology is “not really important.”

Respondents in all but one of the countries agreed that non-technical skills will also be important for jobs of the future. The highest numbers of Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi youth maintained that the most important skills to a great future job will be the “ability to inspire others, and leadership capability” (37%, 36%, 34% respectively).

More than one in four of the surveyed Singaporean youth regard “people management and emotional intelligence” (27%).

Nearly one in three Myanmar youth leaned toward “creativity, cognitive flexibility” (29%). The standout in this category was Malaysia, where 24% of the surveyed stated that tech-related “mobile and web development, and super coding skills” were the most important.

Interestingly, across all the countries 100% of respondents agreed that robots will replace humans in many future professions. In terms of which jobs robots would most likely replace humans in, the nations were united in predicting that the manufacturing and engineering industries would see the most machine takeovers, with nearly half of youth in Malaysia and Bangladesh (both 44%) leading this sentiment. Forty-one percent of surveyed in Myanmar agreed, followed by 38% in Singapore and India, and 34% in Pakistan.

What Asia’s youth bring to the career table

When youth were asked to describe the qualities that best encapsulate themselves as young thinkers and students, there were two main parties. The most youth in Singapore (32%), Bangladesh (26%), Malaysia (24%) and Pakistan (21%) chose to describe themselves as “compassionate, with a sense of justice and the desire to protect,” whereas most in Myanmar (30%) and India (24%) stated they were “highly creative, intuitive thinkers.”

Almost across the board respondents were least likely to describe themselves as having “mathematical prowess and advanced analytical skills,” with just 13% in Myanmar, 14% in India and Bangladesh, and 16% in Pakistan. Also notable: Singaporean (14%) and Malaysian (18%) respondents were least likely to describe themselves as “highly creative, intuitive thinkers.”

Asia’s millennials also appear united in their enthusiasm for a technology-driven future. Youth in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and India all agreed with the statement: “It’s important to understand all kinds of technology – I want to know as much as I can!”, with Myanmar topping the scale at 34% of respondents. Singapore and Malaysia admire the human aspects of technology; with 31% of Singaporeans and 28% of Malaysians saying that the best thing about the internet is that it “connects us to all kinds of people and ideas.”

“It’s fascinating to see that young adults not only revere technology and the opportunities it presents them, but also see themselves as ‘compassionate’, and ‘highly creative’,” said Yasu Sato, Head of Digital Capabilities, People Development, Telenor Group. “The fact they are aligned in not only believing that technology and the internet are crucial for their careers, but that they are excited about this, is very motivating to us. They reflect the way Telenor Group views Asia – as a vibrant region with talented and promising youth who look to make meaningful contributions in their jobs of the future.”

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