Monday, October 02, 2006

Most Young People Entering the U.S. Workforce Lack Critical Skills Essential for Success

[2 October 2006 - The Conference Board] As the baby boom generation slowly exits the U.S. workplace, a new survey of leaders from a consortium of business research organizations finds the incoming generation sorely lacking in much needed workplace skills-both basic academic and more advanced "applied" skills, according to a report released today. The report is based on an detailed survey of 431 human resource officials that was conducted in April and May 2006 by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management. Its objective was to examine employers' views on the readiness of new entrants to the U.S. workforce-recently hired graduates from high schools, two-year colleges or technical schools, and four-year colleges. "The future workforce is here, and it is ill-prepared," concludes the report. The findings reflect employers' growing frustrations over the preparedness of new entrants to the workforce. Employers expect young people to arrive with a core set of basic knowledge and the ability to apply their skills in the workplace - and the reality is not matching the expectation. "It is clear from the report that greater communication and collaboration between the business sector and educators is critical to ensure that young people are prepared to enter the workplace of the 21st century," says Richard Cavanagh, President and CEO of The Conference Board. "Less than intense preparation in critical skills can lead to unsuccessful futures for America's youth, as well as a less competitive U.S. workforce. This ultimately makes the U.S. economy more vulnerable in the global marketplace." ... CREATIVITY IS IMPORTANT TO THE FUTURE WORKPLACE: Looking toward the future, nearly three-fourths of the survey participants ranked "creativity/innovation" as among the top five applied skills projected to increase in importance for future graduates. In addition, knowledge of foreign languages, cultures, and global markets will become increasingly important for future graduates entering the U.S. workforce. When asked to project the changing importance of several knowledge and skill needs over the next five years, 63 percent of survey participants cited foreign languages as increasing in importance more than any other basic knowledge area or skill. And, in separate questions about emerging content areas, half of the respondents noted the use of "non-English languages as a tool for understanding other nations, markets, and cultures," while 53 percent selected "understanding of global markets and the economic and cultural impacts of globalization." Making appropriate choices concerning health and wellness is the number one emerging topic considered most critical for future graduates entering the workforce. More than three-quarters of survey participants (76 percent) say that "making appropriate choices concerning health and wellness, such as nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, work-life effectiveness" is an emerging content area that will be most critical for future graduates. More

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