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Workplace of the future. A view from European youth
Workplace of the future. A view from European youth
Workplace of the future. A view from European youth
Workplace of the future. A view from European youth

Enabling the voice of the youth

Digitisation is seen as a powerful motor in creating much-needed new jobs in this crucial period of European economic regeneration. Completing the EU's Digital Agenda could create up to four million new jobs. As a new generation of European youth seeks to enter and re-define the workplace, the debate continues over the deficit in technology skills and the nature of future jobs and the future workplace. The voice and actions of the 90 million Europeans under the age of 30 will be crucial in defining this future.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is working with young people across Europe to prepare them for successful careers in the digital age. TCS, in collaboration with ThinkYoung, a think tank focused on youth, conducted a study of over 500 young Europeans between the ages of 18 and 30. The study covered all 28 EU countries and the aim was to understand their thoughts on the future of the workplace.

A key objective of this research is to start a dialogue between young people, industry and government leaders. In response to the survey findings and interviews, TCS has sought perspectives from some of Europe’s leading politicians, business leaders and academics to add their voices to the debate.

We are indebted to the young people from across Europe and to the leaders who have taken time to participate in this research and offer their insights and perspectives.


European Leaders View

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Neelie Kroes

VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION

"The digital revolution will affect and benefit every European – but it is the younger people who will most shape it, and be shaped by it."

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N. Chandrasekaran

CEO & MD, TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES

"Generation Y will enable the next generation of digital enterprises, but we must first enable them to do so. To meet their needs we must listen. Their voices are important and must be heard."

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Henri Malosse

PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE

"Young people embrace a European future, characterised by opportunity and enabled by technology, with fewer geographical boundaries and a freedom of movement that will allow them to seize these opportunities."

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Sir Thomas Harris

CHAIRMAN OF THE EUROPEAN SERVICES FORUM (ESF)

"There is a certain level of idealism in the belief that geographic boundaries will erode with the digital enterprise. This is a great ambition but does not necessarily reflect the direction of travel that can be seen across many industries today… this momentum in the direction of greater privacy controls is building. Therefore geographic boundaries are increasing and likely to increase."

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Amalia Sartori

MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT and CHAIR ITRE

Amalia Sartori argues that digitisation is inherently transnational which is a driver for a common decision making process above national level to maintain this momentum: “The role of a united Europe is that of providing a harmonised legislative framework that will create a competitive environment that will stimulate innovation."

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Soili Mäkinen

CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER, CARGOTEC

Argues that mobile and digital communications technologies are a fact of life for younger generations, therefore even more traditional businesses need to embrace these to attract new talent.

"The days of management sitting in offices on the top floor and behind closed doors are long gone. Tweeting, blogging, communicating more openly creates an atmosphere of discussion and encourages people to give opinions, which is fundamental to driving progress forward."

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Matthias Nachtigal

VICE CHAIRMAN, CONFEDERATION OF GERMAN JUNIOR ENTERPRISES

"Environmental sustainability and economic success are becoming more closely integrated. It's been a concern of today's society, to leave to future generations an environmentally sustainable habitat and this will only strengthen in future."

"In order to adapt to an increasingly permeable enterprise, the magic word is 'transparency'. Both internal and external stakeholders want to be actively involved in the development of a company."

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Mike Johnson

CHAIRMAN AND FOUNDER, FUTUREWORK FORUM

Mike Johnson thinks that young people are right that physical work spaces matter but that reflects their stage in life, and that with increased commitments later in life – such as parenthood – the appeal of flexibility and home working grows. He thinks "work today is a blend, we commute some days to an office, we work at home on others" and that "there is no office day anymore".

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Lynda Gratton

PROFESSOR OF MANAGEMENT PRACTICE, LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL

"It seems counter-intuitive that a digital savvy generation would prefer to work in a physical office rather than from home. But this is the phase in life when you’re most interested in other people. It’s not surprising that they don’t want to work on their own. This is the world’s most socially connected generation too."

"This is a generation that’s entering a workplace that’s becoming more specialised. Many of the middle management jobs have been replaced by automation and technology, leaving either low-skilled or high-skilled, highly specialised jobs. But for Generation Y individuals aspiring to move up, the lack of these roles to learn skills means there is no place to start. And in a workplace of specialists, young people are being asked to learn and work differently."

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John Higgins CBE

DIRECTOR-GENERAL, DIGITALEUROPE

"Workplaces need to move towards being the sort of club that people want to be in. They don’t need to be constrained by rigid office hours but be creating a space that people want to go to and that will facilitate working. At the same time they don’t need to go there but that they should be able work remotely."

He thinks there are different ways that readiness for the digital enterprise should be understood:

"At one end. On the other end of the scale there is a demand for engineers that can create these technologies. What is vital is that there is a segmentation of the needs." He argues that this range of requirements must be communicated by businesses to education system.

"Young people now recognise the holistic picture. It has not always been the norm that young people go into a job and understand the needs of customers, investors. This external awareness is striking and very heartening."

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Prof. A.H.G. Rinnooy Kan

UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS, UNIVERSITY OF AMSTERDAM (UVA)

"Young people actually manage quite well in the digital world. However, schools and the educational system lag behind the pace of technology as there is a delay between the emergence of new technologies and their introduction into curricula. A more interesting question is not whether students have learned everything they need to at school but whether school has enabled them to learn what they need."

"Either people are over optimistic about opportunities or they are voicing an intention that never materialises. Whatever the explanation, it is encouraging as this mobility is what Europe has always been about."

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Kirsten Bodley

CHIEF EXECUTIVE, STEMNET

Kirsten Bodley noted that while a high percentage of young people feel underprepared by education for work in the digital age, this is being resolved by greater input from industry to provide role models. She believes that "the more business and industry can work with all levels of education the better prepared our young people can be."

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Pilar Del Castillo

MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

"Unemployment, including youth and long-term unemployment, has reached unacceptably high levels and it is likely to remain high in the near future, calling for determined and urgent action. Digital skills should be the indispensable component of all professional training, to ensure new generations as well as those currently in the workplace are able to acquire the skills they need."

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Sidonia Jędrzejewska

MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Sidonia Jędrzejewska thinks that legislators need to ensure is that no enterprises are excluded from the process of digitisation:

"It is crucial that small and micro enterprises, and especially start-ups, have access to advanced hardware and software expanding their business opportunities. Communication services, office applications and cloud computing, all in all, open many doors in front of young entrepreneurs and let them go global from day one."

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Markus J. Beyrer

DIRECTOR GENERAL, BUSINESSEUROPE

Markus J. Beyrer finds it striking that "such a high percentage of the respondents find it desirable to move between countries within the EU” when currently "just 3% of EU nationals live and work in a country other than their own". He argues that disconnect between aspiration and the present situation must be resolved through improved language skills and a common European approach to maintain the quality of education and to recognise qualifications attained in other nations.

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Derek O'Halloran

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, HEAD OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRIES, WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

"The environment now is one where people move a lot within their career, so career opportunities are naturally more important. This finding is perhaps not surprising but reconfirms this shift towards a more change-driven, holistic perspective of a career."

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Dr. Peter Vogel

ÉCOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FÉDÉRALE DE LAUSANNE

"The ThinkYoung – TCS survey reveals that European youth wish for a more open communication with employees in order to include everyone in the innovation process and for businesses to include innovation at a structural level. We find young people’s instincts on the power of communication to be well aligned to the realities of modern business."

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Timo Katajisto

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, PRODUCTION AND MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD, ELISA CORPORATION

"The challenge offered by a new job matters much more to young people when considering jobs. Brand still matters but more in terms of the degree to which that brand has a drive behind it, a set of values and qualities that implies career challenges and opportunities."

Ten Key Findings

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