Age, skill gaps hamper employees’ growth, says LinkedIn study

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR/ pic by BLOOMBERG

AGE IS the main barrier preventing employees from progressing in their career, a new study by LinkedIn reveals.

LinkedIn Asia Pacific MD Olivier Legrand (picture) said the biggest skills gaps that are seen today are soft skills among generation Z and millennials, and tech skills among the older generation.

“For the first time, four generations are working together. It’s time for businesses to set aside hiring biases against age and embrace the multigenerational workforce as an opportunity.

“We encourage companies to hire for complementary skills and to promote collaboration and bi-directional mentorship among their workforce,” he said, adding that, a multigenerational and diverse workforce is a business advantage and driver of growth.

The professional networking site surveyed more than 30,000 18- to 65-year-olds across 22 markets — including 1,050 in Malaysia — to gauge the challenges and opportunities affecting today’s workforce.

It measured seven metrics of optimism including respondents’ perception of the economy over the next 12 months, their financial situations and their quality of life compared to their parents’ generation.

According to LinkedIn’s Opportunity Index 2020, boomers (45%) and generation X (33%) feel that age is a significant barrier to opportunities, as they struggle to keep up with technological and automation changes.

Meanwhile, generation Z (40%) and millennials (21%) are held back by a lack of work experience, while youths in Malaysia feel more optimistic to succeed in the workforce. The age groups of respondents classified as generation Z were between 18 and 22 years old (1998-2002); millennials, 23 and 38 years old (1982-1997), generation X, 39 to 54 years old (1966-1981) and boomers ranging from 55 to 65 years old (1955-1965).

Overall, LinkedIn highlighted that Malaysians have a relatively positive outlook on the local economy, and are more optimistic in relation to developed markets such as Singapore, Australia and Japan.

“Generation Z and millennials fuel the drive for optimism and confidence to gain access to opportunities. The study also found that Malaysians’ long-term pursuit of good quality of life is ultimately defined by “good health”.

“However, at the moment, career and life goals are of utmost importance to them,” it added.

Specifically, the research finds that Malaysians are most keen on opportunities that allow work-life balance and greater financial independence.

“Boomers and generation X seek better health and secure finances for the future, while millennials and generation Z prioritise a stable job.

“But the pursuit of these opportunities are hindered by ‘opportunity gaps’ or barriers to opportunities like today’s difficult job market, lack of financial resources and people’s age,” LinkedIn said.

However, 77% of Malaysians also believe that education is important to get ahead in life.

“It is therefore not surprising to see that 31% of Malaysians — the highest in the Asia Pacific — are looking for opportunities where they can learn a new skill or technology.

“This suggests an appetite to elevate themselves in the workforce and to compete more efficiently,” Legrand said, adding that Malaysians feel that working hard and the willingness to embrace change are keys to achieving better opportunities.