October 03, 2017

2017 University Graduates Cling to Human Elements Despite Digital Fluency, According to Accenture

Multi-country study is the first of its kind by Accenture Strategy, which has benchmarked U.S. graduate perceptions about the workforce since 2013

NEW YORK; Oct. 3, 2017 – A new study by Accenture (NYSE: ACN) shows that three in four new university graduates believe their education prepared them for today’s digital workforce. Despite their digital native prowess, only 19 percent of these new graduates prefer web communications tools, while nearly four in ten (39 percent) favor face-to-face interactions with colleagues.

Across all countries surveyed, most new graduates—those graduating in 2017—have already taken digital or computer science related courses when they begin their first job—ranging from 66 percent in the United Kingdom to 76 percent in Germany—bringing a highly marketable digital mindset with them. Having this experience, a majority of new graduates welcome artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies, ranging from 56 percent in Spain to 70 percent in Italy, believing these new technologies will enhance their work experience. Yet, new graduates rated communication as well as problem solving skills (both 38 percent) as skills that would make them most attractive to potential employers.

“It is not surprising that these digital natives are less worried about their competency with emerging technologies,” said Mary Lyons, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy, Talent & Organization, Global Lead. “For them, working alongside technology is less daunting than mastering the softer skills of communication, problem solving and management. They have grown up in a connected world where humans and machines have coexisted for as long as they can remember.”

Recent Graduates Are Rethinking Their First Job Choice
In addition to being prepared for a more digital workforce, the study also found that as university graduates gain “real-world” experience, their desire to work for large companies grows. For instance, among recent graduates—those who graduated in 2015 or 2016—nearly one in three want to work for a large company. In addition, the majority of recent grads (from 54 percent in the U.S. to 72 percent in France) feel underemployed and are in a job they feel doesn’t require their degree. These same graduates are nearly three times more likely to stay with employers if their skills are fully utilized.

“Large companies need to show new graduates that they are a valuable first choice as a place to start their careers,” continued Lyons. “Large companies are often better positioned to provide the job security, learning opportunities and career paths that new graduates desire.”

Tweet: Large companies the most popular employer for recent grads according to @AccentureStrat https://accntu.re/2fo3mLK .

New Entrants to the Workplace Take on a Future Forward Mentality
New graduates are well prepared to enter the workforce. 82 percent of 2017 graduates will have completed an internship or apprenticeship—in Germany, 93 percent—showing an appreciation for the need to bring practical skills to the table from Day One as they embark on their careers.

The future workforce is also flexible, as the vast majority of new graduates are willing to relocate to another city or region for the right job offer, ranging from 75 percent in the U.S. to 89 percent in Spain. Nearly half of new graduates (49 percent) consider it acceptable to work on weekends or evenings, while 84 percent of new graduates would consider taking an internship after graduation if it would help them land a job.

For more information and an interactive tool that shows the breakdown of results by country, please visit: www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-gen-z-rising-2017-edition.

The Accenture Strategy 2017 Graduate Employment Study surveyed 6,016 students in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States graduating from university in 2017, and 6,004 students who graduated from university in 2015 and 2016, between the ages of 18 and 24, to compare the perceptions of students preparing to enter the job market with the experiences of recent graduates already in the workforce. Generations in the workforce were defined per the following birth years: Gen X: 1965–1979. Millennials/Gen Y: 1980–1992. Gen Z: 1993–1999.

About Accenture
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 425,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.

Accenture Strategy operates at the intersection of business and technology. We bring together our capabilities in business, technology, operations and function strategy to help our clients envision and execute industry-specific strategies that support enterprise wide transformation. Our focus on issues related to digital disruption, competitiveness, global operating models, talent and leadership help drive both efficiencies and growth. For more information, visit www.accenture.com/strategy.

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Tourang Nazari
Accenture Strategy
+1 202 322 4640