The survey covered 9,572 young adults, aged between 18 and 30 in 13 countries, to gauge expectations about the world of work and their awareness of the skills required by the labour market. Almost 8 out of 10 (77.47%) respondents believe they will find a job within a year of finishing their studies.

Young Swiss adults are the most confident (89.66%), followed by their peers in the USA (84.38%), while their Spanish counterparts are the least so (57.84%), understandable given a youth unemployment rate of 45.8%.

Almost three quarters (73.08%) of respondents feel they are equipped with the right skills. Germans are the most confident (89.11%), while the Japanese emerge as the most insecure (31.54%). Regarding the specific skills needed for the future of work, languages (56.68%) and practical experience (53.70%) are cited as most relevant, with digital skills third (41.48%). More than two-thirds (68.45%) say they have a dream job in mind. When asked what they needed most to get it, work experience was ranked first. As to aspirations over the next 10 years, financial stability comes first, followed closely by being in their dream job and working for a socially responsible company.

Respondents’ optimism appears surprising considering the current talent mismatch worrying employers: 40% claim they cannot find the right skills for their businesses. However, the survey showed young people are heading in the right direction and have an understanding of the priorities required to get onto the job ladder.

In a world of continuous change, knowledge and hard skills become obsolete more quickly. Similarly, soft skills such as creativity, openness to continuous learning and social intelligence become increasingly important. Work experience is fundamental for the development of soft skills. Previous research by the Adecco Group has found that countries with established systems of vocational training, such as Switzerland and Germany, are particularly successful in tackling youth unemployment.

Solutions are needed urgently. In the short term, the private sector can support young people through guidance and internships. In the medium term, however, structural reforms are required to update traditional formal education systems and integrate them with vocational schemes, such as apprenticeships.

Alain Dehaze, Adecco Group CEO, said:

“I encourage young people to keep thinking big, holding onto their dreams and building the foundations for their future. However, youth employment is a shared responsibility. Public-private alliances are essential to design education systems able to shape profiles with the skills the labour market needs, in the interest of young people and society as a whole”.

The Adecco Group is committed to boosting the employability of young people and helping them enter the labour market through a host of dedicated programmes, such as Adecco Way to WorkTM , CEO for One Month, Win4Youth, by joining the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) and as a founding member of the Nestlé Alliance for Youth. Since 2015 over 5,000 internships and apprenticeships, and 80 ‘CEO for One Month’ positions have been provided to young people around the world as part of the Adecco Way to WorkTM programme.