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How Tech Savvy Is the Millennial Generation?

There are a large number of people who harbor the belief that the kids belonging to the Millennial Generation are technologically savvy. Such an impression arose from the fact that they are living in an age wherein technology, particularly IT, is advancing in leaps and bounds. You don’t see a kid these days without a laptop, smartphone or tablet. One would think that these Millennials would have a big, bright future in the corporate or tech world because they are so good when working with these devices.

However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Despite the Millennials great exposure to computers and mobile gadgets, their areas of expertise—if you can actually call it that—are largely limited to social networking and Internet apps, which are not exactly vital to business productivity.

There have been a number of surveys conducted among top universities in the United States regarding the computer skills of students and their potential application in the workplace. In the 2011 Annual Freshman Survey at UCLA, it has been found that only 38.1% of incoming college freshmen have described themselves as having above average computer skills in comparison to other people in the same age group. Only a very small 3.2% of these students are planning to go into a computer-related course. That same survey also revealed that these students primarily used their computers for social networking, games and other fun activities. 94.8% spent most of their time on Facebook and other social networking sites during their senior year in high school. Equally disturbing was an observation made by a University of Notre Dame professor that a large number of his students don’t know how to navigate through the menus of productivity applications.

Presently, 7% of corporate America consists of the Millennials. In 12 years time, this number is expected to balloon to 75%. The greater concern, however, is just how technologically proficient are these Millennials going to be by that time?

The problem regarding technology proficiency has been traced to inadequate training by teachers and the inability to deliver good courses that will help enable skill development. Most of the skills that are being taught are limited to the basic productivity level. However, there is very little focus on more challenging courses like web programming and development. Even if a student shows potential in these fields, he or she will need to take additional advanced courses which may prove to be very expensive.

Another dilemma facing educational institutions is the rapid growth and development of technologies. By the time schools and universities already have their teaching modules planned out, the tech has already been replaced by a new version. This is particularly true of Windows and Mac operating systems.

At present, private companies are hoping to bridge this tremendous gap in tech education by offering free online courses. For example, Treehouse provides affordable education on web design and programming, and IOS development. Codecademy teaches free web fundamentals and Javascript courses. Similarly, Udacity has free online courses on computer science and physics, and artificial intelligence development. As laudable as these efforts are, schools and universities should make the extra effort to meet the great demand for quality education and, more importantly, keep up with the rapidly evolving tech environment. Only then can they produce Millennials who will become truly productive in the workforce of the future.

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