Today’s university students are extremely concerned with issues of globalization and sustainability, but only four out of 10 believe their education has prepared them to address these issues, according to a new IBM study designed to gauge the attitudes and opinions of the next-generation global workforce and business leaders.
This survey — which asked university students the same questions posed to global business leaders in IBM’s 2010 Global CEO Study — finds that both students and CEOs believe creativity is the most important emerging competency of future leaders; and reveals clear confidence about the ability of information technologies to address looming issues in business or society.
Conducted through IBM’s Institute for Business Value, the Study, “Inheriting a Complex World: Future Leaders Envision Sharing the Planet,” reflects the consolidated view of more than 3,600 students in more than 40 countries.
The study reveals a discerning and decidedly optimistic new ethos — based on an integrated view of globalization, sustainability and belief in technology as a path to solutions to emerging and existing problems. Almost 50 percent of students said that organizations should optimize their operations by globalizing, rather than localizing, to meet their strategic objectives.
At the same time, these students describe a gap in this generation’s training to cope with issues that will arise in an increasingly interconnected and complex world, but a strong belief that information technologies can bridge the gap.
Within four years, this “Millennial generation” will make up half of the global workforce. Despite the economic environment and the challenges students may face entering the current job market, the findings from this study were characterized by an unmistakably optimistic outlook about what’s ahead – and their capacity to affect change in the world they will inherit.
Students surveyed indicated that they will lean more heavily on data analysis — over gut instinct or existing “best practices” — to reach their strategic and operational goals as business leaders in their own right. And as fact-based decisions begin to prevail, they may need to pioneer an entirely new management style — one that continually enriches personal experience and education with new sources of insight based on a new ability deal with the explosion of real-time information.
The study revealed broad-based confidence that increased access to information, analysis, and the resulting insight can reduce uncertainty about the future.
Clearly, the students’ experience regarding globalization is different. Growing up more connected globally, students see the shocks and threats, but are more prone to view globalization as an opportunity to solve increasingly global problems. They are strongly committed to a global view of shared responsibility for both environmental issues and societal prosperity.
Given students’ concerns about globalization and sustainability, the Study found a gap in educational experiences, as well as business expectations. Asked how well their education has prepared them in a number of areas, only four out of 10 students believe their education has prepared them well to address these issues.
In China, 76 percent of students value global thinking as a top leadership quality, more than students anywhere else. Yet, only 38 percent of students in China believe their education has prepared them for global citizenship, which is lower than students in any other region.
Only 17 percent of students in Japan, less than any other region, believe their education has prepared them well to benefit from the growth of emerging markets.
Understanding these and other sharp differences emerging by geography is increasingly important as economies and societies become more closely linked. Students will confront these differences as they increasingly become the future leaders of business and organizations.