Gen Y forms today’s pool of new candidates and organisations are scampering to tap their fresh and budding talent. Many organisations hire extensively from colleges and universities with carefully planned campus recruitment initiatives to attract the new generation.

Heralded as the harbinger of change, Gen Y are poised to make significant contributions that will spell future success. As Mr Amit Das, Senior Vice President, RPG Enterprises points out, “The Gen Y can bring in the much needed fresh perspective to the business aligned with the rapid changes in the talent market, workforce demographics and mindset shift due to globalisation of industries.” He adds that they also, “bring in innovative and out-of-the-box thinking, global mindset, speed and flexibility of decision making, and compel the organisation to foster open and transparent culture due to easy accessibility to data and information available to the Gen Y employee population!”

Mr. Syed Raza, Head Recruitments, Fiserv India puts forth another dimension, “Gen Y are more participative and hence they are usually seen executing organisational initiatives, leading innovation programmes, organising associate (employee) engagement events, carrying out social responsibility charter for the company to help the communities in which we live and work, and are centre point of all the energy in the organisation. Their inventiveness and result-orientation besides producing better products or services assists an organisation to add value to their system, processes, culture and overall functioning.”

Generation Y brings some distinctive traits and skills that definitely set them apart from the rest of the workforce. Mr. Nagarajan Balanaga, Vice President, Human Resource, Cummins Group in India opines, “Generation Y is technologically savvy, information hungry, communicative and geared to multi-task. They are energetic, vibrant, enthusiastic and eager to learn and adopt new methodologies, all of which improves their ability to deal with challenges. They play a key role in change management.” Mr. Das adds, “In addition to the high aptitude, cognitive fundamental knowledge of functional subjects, they also have effective communication skills, fair understanding of the relation between business verticals and functions, commercial acumen and knowledge of overall economic and business environment. They possess traits like confidence, openness and clarity in their thoughts and actions, inquisitiveness to seek knowledge and information on new subjects and constant quest for learning.”

Apart from this, Gen Y is also confident, ambitious, motivated and achievement-oriented. The self-expressive tendency imbibed from constantly expressing themselves on social platforms like Twitter and Facebook gears them to unhesitatingly express new ideas, insights and solutions, eventually leading to organisational progress.

Above all, their inherent technology and media savviness primes them to exploit these powerful tools in day-to-day business for everything from sourcing information and creating a following to business analytics and decision making. According to a 2012 study by PayScale, an online salary, benefits and compensation information company, three of the top five most commonly reported job skills for Gen Y workers, relative to the rest of the workforce are blogging, social media optimisation, and press releases!

Mr. Raza hits the nail on the head: “Their ability to learn fast, unending desire to grow and a spirit of competition, if exploited rightfully will yield best results for the organisation.”

Bridging the skill gap

Yet, there is a marked disconnect between Gen Y’s skills and what is expected by the organisation, primarily due to the lack of practical knowledge and hands-on exposure to the work environment. Mr. Balanaga explains the problem, “A gap may exist in the desired levels of soft skills and on-the-job work experience owing to the limited practical knowledge with which Generation Y enters the workforce.

Cummins has an initiative called Young Manager Development Programme (YMDP), an integrated module designed and piloted for engineers hired from campus. This one year module includes plant visits, interactions with business leaders, soft skills training, role model and project review sessions, etc.” Mr. Naveen Narayanan, Global Head, Talent Acquisition, HCL Technologies elaborates the problem, “The gap always is on application of conceptual know-how to business problems and finding ways to add value to client. Students who have had good internships or colleges which invest a lot in case-based and context-based learning come with distinct advantages. Once they come on board we have certified courses for different skills within HCL.”

Mr. Das goes a step further, “The skill gaps are primarily in their ability to comprehend the business reality in linkage to theoretical learning, tolerance to ambiguity and complexities in business, stakeholder management, and in some cases, their ability to quickly align with diverse organisation culture arising out of the nature of businesses.”

He explains company initiatives to bridge the gap, “We have a very structured management trainee programme called GMR (Group Management Resources) where management graduates hired from the premier B-school campuses, are inducted and oriented both in various functions and businesses through pre-defined stints in the first 12 months.

The effectiveness of their learning is also assessed through periodic reviews where they share their learning and insights with senior management teams. The mentors assigned to them during the training period also support them in navigating through the business complexities, gaining confidence in interacting with senior stakeholders and quicker orientation at the workplace.”

Mr. Debashis Patnaik, Senior Director- HR, EMC India Centre of Excellence opines, “There indeed is a glaring gap between the curriculum offered by the academia and the industry requirement. In order to plug this gap we partner with relevant top-tier universities and run professional integrated learning programmes which give employees, the opportunity to pursue higher studies while they continue being employed with EMC. These programmes include on-the-job project assignments that allow employees to leverage their existing work group to pick up challenging projects.”

To sum up, employers cannot afford to miss out on Gen Y employees as they are a major asset to the organisation. The right attitude and management can help organisations to tap their talent in such a way that they also close the inherent skill gap and get Gen Y recruits up to speed at the earliest!

Payal Chanania