October 15, 2014

Millennials in the United States – young adults between 18 and 30 years old – express slightly more optimism in their futures and the future of the United States than they did last year, according to a survey released by global telecommunications company Telefónica. The survey of more than 6,700 respondents in 18 countries included 1,000 young people in the United States, half of whom are Hispanic. The survey, which follows on from Telefónica’s inaugural Global Millennial Survey in 2013, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind, indicates that while more than half (59 percent) of U.S. Millennials are satisfied with the education system, they are concerned with its affordability.

U.S. Millennials are generally optimistic about their futures (89 percent) with more saying that they are very optimistic (43 percent) this year than they were last year (35 percent). Optimism about their country’s future is also on the rise. This year’s survey indicated about half (51 percent) of U.S. Millennials believe that their country’s best days are ahead, more than believed the same (44 percent) last year. U.S. Millennials of Hispanic descent are more optimistic about the future of their country (58 percent) than their non-Hispanic peers (49 percent).

U.S. Millennials view the economy (26 percent) as the most important issue facing their country today. Seventy-seven percent believe that the gap between the rich and poor is expanding. Corruption (47 percent), political leadership (38 percent) and the education system (38 percent) are perceived to be the biggest barriers to the country’s growth. U.S. Millennials most frequently said that the key to domestic growth is equal opportunities for all (32 percent) and a strong education system (28 percent).

“This is the second year that Telefónica has conducted the Global Millennial Survey. We know that we need to understand the perceptions and desires of this generation if we are to meet their expectations,” said Alfredo Timermans, Telefónica Internacional USA. “These insights help us to continue our efforts to make a positive impact on the real lives of people, communities and our society. We believe our industry can and should play a key part in addressing the issues identified in this research to build positive momentum that is empowered through digital exploration, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

U.S. Millennials prioritize education as key issue at home and abroad

Fifty-nine percent of U.S. Millennials are satisfied with their country’s educational system, and 74 percent believe their education prepared them for their professional future. Two-thirds (66 percent) of U.S. Millennials said affordability of education is the element that needs the most improvement. Quality of teachers (53 percent) and quality of curriculum (52 percent) are also concerns in the U.S., though both top the list with global Millennials. More than one-third (34 percent) of U.S. non-Hispanics strongly agree they have had access to the all the educational opportunities they desire, compared to 28 percent of U.S. Hispanics.

U.S. Millennials believe education is one of the most important environmental or social issues facing the world today, according to respondents who cite the economy as the most pressing issue (38 percent) followed by poverty (35 percent) and education (28 percent).

Almost one in five (17 percent) believe healthcare and medicine are the most important fields of study for ensuring their personal future success, followed closely by computer science and programming (16 percent) and business (14 percent). U.S. Millennials value humanities-related fields, such as foreign languages, literature and history (3 percent, 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively) less.

U.S. Millennials are focused on career stability and the benefits of technology on their careers

U.S. Millennials value having a stable, well-paying job (46 percent) over family milestones, such as getting married (14 percent) or owning a home (13 percent). U.S. Millennials say they are most likely to pursue a STEM-related field with one-quarter (25 percent) saying they will pursue technology. Healthcare (22 percent), engineering and science (13 percent each) were also top choices. When it comes to seeking employment, Millennials in the United States look for a company that provides its employees with a good work/life balance (49 percent) and pays a lot of money (41 percent), while their Latin American counterparts think that a company that offers ample opportunities for training and development is most important (39 percent).

While few U.S. Millennials express interest in starting their own business (23 percent), more respondents (84 percent) said that they have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur or bring an idea to market than said the same last year (77 percent).

Two-thirds (66 percent) of U.S. Millennials are interested in seeking employment in other countries, and about half (49 percent) of U.S. Millennials said they would prefer opportunities in Western Europe. The primary driver for looking for opportunities outside their country is the prospect of gaining a perspective on the world (64 percent) versus finding a better-paying job (32 percent).

Despite their interest in working abroad, more than half (52 percent) of U.S. Millennials are concerned that their country may lose the best and the brightest talent as they pursue opportunities abroad. Additionally, almost two-thirds (61 percent) do not think their country is doing enough to develop and retain their country’s young talent.

U.S. Millennials are integrating technology into daily life and using it in transformative ways

U.S. Millennials believe they are on the cutting edge of technology (83 percent). This year, more respondents own mobile technology, such as smartphones (79 percent) and tablets (56 percent) as compared to last year’s survey (70 percent and 37 percent, respectively). While U.S. Millennials use technology primarily for entertainment and socializing (58 and 51 percent, respectively), almost half of U.S. Millennials also believe that it has significantly transformed access to news and current events (47 percent) and education and research (46 percent).

About one-third of U.S. Millennials also recognize the power of technology to help them identify career opportunities (35 percent) and improve their work and business productivity (32 percent). U.S. Millennials believe the top benefits to having a digital skillset in the workplace are improving the quality of work (69 percent), the ability to work faster (43 percent) and being an integral part of a team (37 percent). When it comes to choosing a company to purchase personal technology from, 34 percent of U.S. Millennials believe a commitment to sustainability and social impact is a very important factor.


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