Millennials' analytical skills don't stack up, study says

Here’s an item sure to stir up generational tensions: The American Management Association says Millennials just don’t have the analytical skills of older generations.

In fact, 19 percent of the younger generation has either non-existent or poor analytical abilities, according to a study sponsored by the association.

The organization asked nearly 800 respondents from more than 50 industries how prepared they are to compete in an age of big data. Generation X — those  between the age of 30 and 50 — was the most analytical of any group, with 58 percent rated as advanced or expert and only 6 percent rated non-existent or poor. Forty-one percent of baby boomers fell into the advanced or expert category, along with 35 percent of Millennials.

“Despite their familiarity with technology, Millennials aren’t seen as having equal analytics savvy,” said Robert Smith, senior vice president at the AMA. “But what’s really at issue here is an analytical mindset, which includes both quantitative and qualitative ability more than any specific number-crunching skill. In other words, employees need to know what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to make inferences and draw conclusions based on data in order to drive the organization forward.”

According to Smith, organizations are taking a hard look at the skills and competencies they will need over the next decade.

“Companies will be stepping up development and training, and analytical skills will be high on the list of priorities. What they’re seeking is strength in data analysis and critical thinking across the whole organization, not just among a select number of experts as in the past. Management realizes it is imperative to build the right skills … across all age groups in an organization.”

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