Although much of the panic surrounding their generation has subsided, the fact that many Millennials struggle to find and maintain employment has not. According to recent numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment among Millennials (ages 18-29) was nearly double the national unemployment rate in January 2013, having risen faster than any other demographic.
Some of this can be blamed on a still-recovering job market, but the persistent nature of under- and unemployment among millennials suggests that this demographic lacks some skill necessary to obtain employment.
In the 1990s, the U.S. department of labor conducted a survey examining what companies want from their employees. The report identified five critical workplace competencies:
1) Locating and allocating resources
2) Acquiring and interpreting information
3) Understanding complex systems
4) Technological literacy
5) Interpersonal skills
When it comes to the first four requirements, today’s young employees are quite advanced relative to their older peers at that age. Millennials came up in the age of the Internet search, social media and crowdsourcing, and are adept at searching for, finding, and synthesizing information. And as far as technological literacy, the Pew Research Center called them digital natives in a landscape of immigrants. However, the fifth competency, interpersonal skills, is where many young employees fall short. And that’s a big problem.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – the ability to identify, process, and manage one’s own and others’ emotions – is an essential part of building and maintaining positive, productive relationships, which is an essential skill in most jobs.