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Millennials on business: The good, the bad, the ugly

Deloitte Australia: Global Millennial Survey 2019

Millennials’ opinions about business continue to diminish, proving last year’s dramatic drop was not an aberration. After four straight years in the 70s and a drop to 61 percent in 2018, the number of respondents who said business has a positive impact on wider society fell to just 55 percent. The decrease was driven by opinions in emerging countries, which have sunk from 85 percent two years ago to 61 percent today. Mature markets, at 50 percent, have dipped 16 points during that same period.

This showing is driven, in part, by growing views that businesses focus on their own agendas rather than considering wider society—76 percent agree with that sentiment—and that they have no ambition beyond wanting to make money (64 percent agree). It also is likely influenced by a continuing misalignment between millennials’ priorities and what they perceived to be business’s purpose.

Millennials most commonly believe business should prioritise the production of high-quality goods and services (36 percent) and generate jobs (35 percent). But the majority (55 percent) see generating profit as business’s main achievement. They also believe business is underdelivering on enhancing employees’ livelihoods (33 percent said this is a priority; 16 percent said business achieves this), improving society (32 percent versus 16 percent), and improving and protecting the environment (27 percent versus 12 percent).

These results speak to an image problem for business leaders. Only 37 percent of millennials believe business leaders make a positive impact on the world,8 and more than a quarter (26 percent) said they don’t trust business leaders as sources of reliable and improve society (45 percent said they generally are) and behaving ethically (49 percent said they generally do) also divide opinion.

The impact of Industry 4.0
The effects of the changing forces of Industry 4.0 cannot be underestimated. During the past decade, many jobs for which people were educated and trained have changed significantly because of digital technologies. Millennials are using technology that didn’t even exist when they began their careers. And in some sectors, artificial intelligence is now performing tasks that defined certain jobs, forcing the people in those jobs to exercise different, uniquely human skills. As the marriage of physical and digital assets proliferates, the impact on workers will multiply.

Forty-nine percent of millennials believe new technologies will augment their jobs,9 25 percent expect Industry 4.0 to have no impact, and only 15 percent fear it will replace all or part of their job responsibilities. Millennials also told us the changing nature of work may make it tougher to find or change jobs. Nearly half (46 percent) agreed overall, while 45 percent of those currently unemployed or doing unpaid work said they foresee greater challenges. Half of respondents who are optimistic about economic improvement also think it may be more difficult, perhaps believing that a strong economy will spur greater investment in even more-advanced technologies.

Only about one in five respondents believe they have all the skills and knowledge they’ll need for a world being shaped by Industry 4.0, and 70 percent said they may only have some or few of the skills required and will need to evolve their own capabilities to increase their value. The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 13 How they’ll acquire the skills is a source of some debate. Millennials say business (30 percent) has the greatest responsibility for preparing workers, followed by educational institutions (24 percent). Gen Zs put the onus on colleges, universities, and secondary and vocational schools (36 percent), and then employers (25 percent), perhaps because many of those respondents are still in school or recently graduated. The two generations did agree that individuals— through self-education and ongoing professional development—came next, and that government bore the least responsibility for developing workers. These results conflict with opinions shared by global CXOs in a 2019 Deloitte Global survey, “Success personified in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Surveyed leaders were more likely to say responsibility to prepare for Industry 4.0 falls on individuals, government and schools rather than business.10 There’s a clear disconnect among employers and young employees regarding business’s role in developing talent for Industry 4.0, a difference of opinion that needs to be resolved for the good of employers and employees alike.

This is an excerpt from The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019”, Deloitte Australia