What Skills Do Youth Need to Succeed in the Workplace?

In an ever-evolving global job market, it’s crucial that young people cultivate a multifaceted skill set to stay competitive. These essential skills fall into three primary categories: technical skills, soft skills, and digital skills. Let’s delve into what each of these entail and discuss how today’s youth can best develop these skills.

Technical Skills: The Backbone of Career Success

Technical skills are the practical abilities needed to perform tasks in a job. These skills can be learned through formal education, employment programs, certifications, or on-the-job training. Technical skills are often industry-specific and are measurable and directly applicable to specific tasks or roles in the workforce. For example, engineers require knowledge of mathematical modeling, while marketers need proficiency in market analysis.

It’s important to not only have a solid foundation of technical skills, but to keep those skills updated as technologies and processes evolve. The World Economic Forum reports that “1.1 billion jobs are liable to be radically transformed by technology in the next decade.” Staying on top of relevant technical skills and competencies as they change is crucial for remaining competitive and succeeding in your industry.

Behavioral Skills and Mindsets: The Cornerstone of Teamwork

Often overlooked, behavioral skills and mindsets are just as vital as technical abilities. These involve interpersonal and communication skills, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. They are the cornerstone of teamwork and successful collaboration, which are increasingly valuable in today’s interconnected work environments.

Here are some key behavioral skills and mindsets that are important to develop:

  • Leadership: This involves motivating and guiding a team, making decisions, and taking responsibility.
  • Emotional intelligence: This is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as empathize with and respond to the emotions of others.
  • Creativity: This skill allows individuals to come up with new ideas, which is valuable in many roles and industries.
  • Time management: This involves prioritizing tasks, setting goals, and making efficient use of time.
  • Conflict resolution: The ability to manage and resolve disagreements effectively is crucial in maintaining a positive work environment.
  • Personal responsibility: Personal responsibility involves recognizing that your actions and decisions directly impact your career progression and the overall success of your team or organization. It can lead to improved work ethic, better decision-making, and an increased commitment to meeting objectives and delivering high-quality work.
  • Persistence: This refers to the ability to keep going despite challenges, setbacks, or even failures. A persistent mindset encourages continuous learning and resilience, and ultimately leads to breakthroughs and innovation. Persistence also signals to employers and colleagues that you’re dedicated, reliable, and capable of overcoming obstacles — traits highly valued in any professional setting.
  • Future orientation: This is a mindset that involves thinking ahead, anticipating changes, setting goals, and making decisions that will benefit you or your organization in the long run. It aligns your current actions with your long-term objectives, ensuring that you’re constantly moving in the right direction.
  • Growth mindset: A growth mindset is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication, hard work, and the right learning strategies. It’s crucial for youth to develop this mindset in the workplace, as it promotes continuous learning and improvement, adaptability, and resilience.

These skills can be improved through practice, self-reflection, and feedback from others. They’re a crucial part of personal and professional development, and they can make the difference between merely doing a job and excelling at it.

Digital Skills: Navigating the Technology of Today and Tomorrow

Having a strong set of digital skills is non-negotiable. The digital landscape is vast and constantly changing, making it essential for youth to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies. Examples of digital skills that are important to cultivate include:

  • Social media proficiency: This covers both personal and business use of various social media platforms. It also includes understanding social media algorithms and leveraging them for business use.
  • Data analysis and interpretation: As businesses become more data-driven, understanding how to analyze and interpret data using various software and tools is essential.
  • Remote collaboration tools: With remote work becoming more prevalent, skills in using tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace, Slack, Trello, and others are increasingly important.

Remember, digital skills aren’t just for tech jobs — they’re increasingly required across industries. As technology continues to evolve, the need for these skills is only likely to grow. Continuous learning and adaptation are key.

Promoting Youth Skills Development

Youth can develop these essential skills through strategies like self-directed learning, volunteering, and practice, but the best ways to acquire these skills are through targeted programs and initiatives. Let’s take a look at apprenticeships, internships, mentoring, and training, and examine how each option can help youth prepare for success in the workplace.


Apprenticeships are work-based training programs designed to teach participants the practical skills required for a specific job. They combine on-the-job training with classroom learning and are structured to provide apprentices with a comprehensive understanding of a specific profession.

Apprenticeships offer numerous benefits for youth skills development, such as:

  • Practical experience: Apprenticeships offer hands-on training, allowing young people to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world situations. They provide an opportunity to learn from professionals in the field and gain practical experience. This can be particularly valuable for skilled trades work.
  • Financial support: Unlike traditional education where students may have to pay for their studies, apprenticeships allow participants to earn a wage while they learn. This makes apprenticeship an attractive option for those who may need to bring in income as soon as possible.
  • Industry-recognized qualifications: At the end of an apprenticeship, the apprentice often receives an industry-recognized qualification, which can significantly enhance their employability.
  • Transition to employment: Many apprenticeships are structured so that, upon completion, the apprentice is offered a full-time position at the company. This ensures a smooth transition into the workforce.

By offering a balance of theoretical knowledge and practical work experience, apprenticeships provide an excellent platform for young individuals to gain job-specific technical skills and transition smoothly into the world of work.


Internships are temporary positions offered by companies for students or recent graduates, typically lasting a few months. They allow individuals to gain practical experience in a specific industry or role, often without the full responsibilities of a regular employee. Internships can be either paid or unpaid, and they often occur during summer breaks or the final year of a course.

Internships provide several benefits for youth, including:

  • Industry knowledge: Internships expose individuals to the dynamics, challenges, and opportunities in their field of interest, providing valuable insights that can shape their future career paths.
  • Skill development: Interns develop both technical and behavioral skills during their tenure. They learn about specific tools, practices, and protocols in their field, while also honing communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and other interpersonal skills.
  • Resume building: Listing internship experience on a resume can be advantageous when applying for jobs. It demonstrates to potential employers that the candidate has practical experience and a proactive attitude toward their career.

Through internships, young people can gain a comprehensive understanding of the working world, develop essential skills, and make informed decisions about their career paths. Internships help bridge the gap between academic learning and the professional world.

Mentoring Programs

Mentorship involves a relationship between a more experienced professional (the mentor) and a less experienced individual (the mentee). The mentor provides guidance, shares knowledge, and experiences, and assists in the development of the mentee’s skills.

Here’s how mentoring programs promote youth skills development:

  • Personalized learning: Mentoring offers tailored guidance based on the mentee’s interests, goals, and needs. This personalized approach can enhance learning effectiveness.
  • Career guidance: Mentors can provide valuable career advice, helping mentees set career goals, prepare for job interviews, and make informed career decisions.
  • Networking: Mentors can introduce mentees to other professionals in their network, opening up opportunities for internships, job placements, or collaborative projects.

Mentoring can offer a supportive environment for young people to learn, grow, and prepare for the workplace. The guidance and support of a mentor can significantly impact a young person’s career development and success.

Training and Employment Programs

Training programs help youth develop targeted skills for certain jobs and industries, while employment programs also ensure employment opportunities. Here at Generation, we offer free employment programs that provide hands-on experience in various fields, online and offline, in 17 countries around the world.

Our employment programs offer youth:

  • Access to otherwise inaccessible career opportunities: Our programs create a supportive environment rich in opportunity for those who might otherwise be disconnected from the workforce. We do this by working side-by-side with other organizations to build their capacity to prepare and place people into life-changing careers using the Generation approach.
  • Tailored training: We prepare learners for work in specific industries and job roles, from sales and customer service to green jobs and beyond. Our programs cultivate the necessary skills, knowledge, and mindsets to help you succeed in your chosen career.
  • Transition to employment: We connect you with employers who are hiring for the exact roles you’ve been trained to fill.

Through our programs, learners can access training, support, and a path to meaningful employment. Developing skills through employment programs like ours can help you become more competitive in the job market and can help you increase your earning potential.

At Generation, our mission is to train, support, and place people into otherwise inaccessible career opportunities that can change their lives. Explore our employment programs to see how we can help you or donate today to help us create career opportunities for our learners!