Ouch! The American Millennials are Flunking the Basics and Lagging Behind

American Millennial! The Best Educated but the Least Skilled

Isn’t it fascinating that Millennials from the world super power and most powerful country are flunking the basics and faring poorly compared to their mates in other “lesser” countries?

Then worry no more! Here are the shocking details.

We hear about the superior tech savvy of people born after 1980 or generation Y so often that we tend to assume that it is obviously true. But is it? Shock on you! Although, they boast to be really good at using today’s technology, the “American Millennials” are well educated but unskilled. This is surely bad news for the American workforce because the Millennial generation is flunking the basics.

American Millennials are well educated but unskilled

A recent research done in March 2013 by Princeton-based Educational Testing Service shocked and surprised the researchers because the American Millennials scored below average. Essentially, the test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies was designed the measure the job skills of adults aged 16-65 in 23 countries. Through this link the demo version of the test can be accessed, with the full version due for release in August.

Ouch! The American Millennials are Flunking the Basics and Lagging Behind
Can Deeper Learning Improve American Competitiveness?

In a nutshell, the test results indicated that, the Gen Y Americans lagged far behind their counterparts in every measure. For example, in terms of literacy, the American Millennials were placed at position 17 out of 23 with Japan ranking taking the first position.

A more shocking statistic was observed in numeracy with regard to the ability to apply basic math to everyday situations, where the Gen Y Americans ranked dead last. Although, the Gen Y Americans boast of being top notch I.T gurus and making smart use of technology, they still ranked bottom of the heap and grouped together with Poland, Ireland and Slovakia.

Therefore, the outcome of the Program of the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) clearly indicates that the world’s smartest kids are not the Americans. In this case, the Americans Millennials rank poorly behind Japan, Finland, Netherlands and Sweden in literacy skills, problem solving, and numeracy and I.T skills. The most disturbing aspect is that American Millennials are literally the worst in math tests.

Then what and where is the problem with the American Millennials?

Given the poor and mediocre performance of the American Millennials, one is left to wonder where the problem emanates from. The U.S. is regarded as the country with some of the best universities in the world, and so getting the best education should not be an issue.

Besides, Princeton-based Educational Testing Service found that, Gen Y Americans with a master’s degree scored better grades that hose with higher diploma. However, the problem with the Gen Y Americans is probably the education system that emphasises more on the acquisition of knowledge; thus missing out on the necessary skills required for personal growth and the job market (Fortune Magazine, 2015).

Over 82 million American Millennials has received more formal education than any other generation

A study done by the University of Kansas figures out that over 82 million American Millennials has received more formal education than any other generation. Although, the U.S. ranks as the wealthiest nation where the adult literacy test was administered, it is quite appalling that it is the most economically unequal in terms of accessing higher education

From a global perspective, my personal analysis is that, the problem with the American Millennial emanates from the contribution made by the higher institutions of higher learning. Since the early 1980’s till today, the American system of education seems to focus more on the educational aspect, which impacts fewer skills to the Millennials.

In my view, the education system has eroded the values of the American dream because the education curriculum is not aligned to the economic values, or imparting practical skills to the young minds that can be translated into tangible economic opportunities. Besides, I hold on to the viewpoint that, the inequality in economic conditions and disparity in the American society significantly contributes to the lack of and disparity is skills acquisition. Moreover, there is a vicious cycle that revolves around low skill levels, low incomes and less access to quality education.

So what can be done to assist the American Millennials?

The bare fact has been identified as the inadequate education system takes a huge chunk of the blame. First, there is a need to De-emphasize the standardized test scores approach used by most schools especially in the grading of students. Instead, teachers should be given the freedom to help students learn in a meaningful way through blended learning. Furthermore, there is a need to shift away from “spoon-fed” education to emphasizing on active learning. This will help the American Millennials to gain crucial skills that will make them compete effectively with their peers from other countries.

My take on the issue of American Millennials is that the U.S education system should promote a culture of promoting education as a “product” and not necessarily a “process” of learning. This means that, the U.S Universities should desist from basing their admissions on standardized test scores, but focus on the skills and ability of the students to nurture their talent and compete effectively.  I am optimistic that if this is done, a subsequent International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) will provide different results and show much improvement.

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Written By

Connie Benton

Connie is a passionate freelance writer and is a staff writer at CakeHR. She writes about work, millennial culture, and creativity.