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What millennials really think, World Economic Forum survey

Posted on Oct 2, 2017

What millennials really think, World Economic Forum survey

Refugees are welcome, robots can’t be trusted, and climate change is the biggest concern, according to the World Economic Forum survey on millennials.  The Global Shapers Annual Survey 2017, which interviewed young people from 186 countries, gives their insights on society, business, politics, the economy and technology as well as their workplace and career aspirations.

A world of imperfections and possibilities the Shapers Survey highlights some of the overall findings in a document that is not intended to be exhaustive and does not include an analysis of a majority of the questions.

Rather, it features key messages and insights in a manner that is both informative and encourages users to “listen more deeply” by applying the learnings to their contexts and by exploring the insights further. For a more detailed analysis, readers are encouraged to explore the visualization and analysis tool provided here, which allows the reader to focus on any specialized topic in greater detail.

The Shapers Survey is a combination of:

  1. How young people see the world (perception); and
  2. What they want to do about it (action).

Selected key messages to take away include:

  1. Listen to young people; here’s how: With over 50% of the world’s population under the age of 30, it is of concern that young people perceive decision-makers as not listening to them before decisions are made. By its sheer size, the current youth generation is already influential. And that influence is set to grow as they come to occupy a larger proportion of the workforce and voter base, as they become employers and as their consumer spending grows.

Decision-makers who read the Shapers Survey and act on it are already taking a step in the right direction. In addition to indicating that their views are not being considered sufficiently before important decisions are taken, young people also suggest concrete ways to listen to youths, both in society – especially for government – and at work.

  1. Take note that the environment is a top concern: Climate change and the environment remain the top global concerns revealed in this survey for the third year in a row. Young people weigh in on whether science has made the case for climate change and indicate their thoughts about the Sustainable Development Goals, also disclosing whether they know what the SDGs are.

Young people state whether they are willing to change their lifestyles to protect the environment: to avoid any suspense, the answer is a resounding “yes” and is one of the strongest results in this year’s survey. And what’s more, this view also affects how young people assess, treat and relate to organizations.

For organizations that already publish a report on sustainability, there is some good news in the findings.

  1. Fight corruption and build trust: Of the challenges “closer to home”, corruption is not only a top national issue on its own, but according to young people it is the top driver of inequality. It is also a priority issue at the workplace, both with colleagues and managers – with young people valuing integrity and honesty above all other characteristics from the leaders in their country, including employers.

These results are particularly strong in some regions. Furthermore, young people provide action-oriented solutions for decision-makers to address this issue, including providing specific examples of the kinds of penalties that the public officials who are corrupt deserve.

Beyond these selected messages, thematic areas allow the reader to uncover other insights related to technology, education, health, refugees, the gender gap, inequality and discrimination, as well as extensive insights for those interested in youth perspectives at the workplace.

For more information on the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Annual Survey 2017 go to