College & Workforce Readiness

Work Skills of Graduates Seen Lacking

By Rhea R. Borja — October 24, 2006 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

New employees with just high school diplomas, and even some employees with four-year college degrees, lack the work skills needed to succeed in a global and increasingly competitive workplace, suggests a survey of corporate human-resource officials.

It found, for instance, that 75 percent of the 431 company human-resource officials polled said K-12 schools are responsible for teaching basic skills such as writing, critical thinking, reading comprehension, and work ethic, suggesting that they have fallen short of that responsibility.

“Are They Really Ready to Work” is posted by The Conference Board.

“The future of the U.S. workforce is here—and it is woefully ill-prepared for the demands of today’s and tomorrow’s workplace,” write the authors of the survey, “Are They Really Ready to Work?”

The survey was a collaborative effort by the Conference Board, a business membership and research group based in New York City; the nonprofit groups Corporate Voices for Working Families, based in Washington, and the Tucson, Ariz.-based Partnership for 21st Century Skills; and the Society for Human Resource Management, a 205,000-member organization based in Alexandria, Va.

The survey, released this month, comes as the United States faces increased competition for jobs from college graduates in other countries, according to experts such as Ken Kay, the president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a group which advocates the teaching of workplace skills by K-12 schools.

“People’s job descriptions are shifting under their feet,” he said. “Their jobs are being redefined, offshored, and computerized. That creates the need for critical-thinking and innovation skills.”

But some public education advocates argued that schools are doing a better job preparing students for the real world than in years past.

See Also

K-12 education has become more academically rigorous and prepares students for college better than it ever has, suggested Anne L. Bryant, the executive director of the Alexandria, Va.-based National School Boards Association. She pointed out that 1.1 million students took an Advanced Placement course in 2003, compared with 177,406 in 1983.

“We have a whole lot of schools doing a superb job of educating children far beyond what they were educated to do 10 to 12 years ago,” she said. “Just ask parents trying to help their kids with 8th grade math.”

Still, the majority of the survey respondents see a different picture.

Almost 70 percent of the human-resource officials surveyed said that high school graduates fell short in critical-thinking skills, and 81 percent said they were deficient in written communications.

Four-year college graduates were also found lacking. More than a quarter of those surveyed said that their new employees who were recent college graduates had poor writing skills.

In response, a good number of the company officials say they will change their hiring practices.

Almost a third said in the survey that they will reduce their hiring of employees with just a high school diploma, and 42 percent said they will hire more people with advanced degrees.

A version of this article appeared in the October 25, 2006 edition of Education Week as Work Skills of Graduates Seen Lacking


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Video Resilience, Faith, and Support: How Twin Brothers Forged Diverging Paths to College
Twin brothers from rural Arkansas reflect on their path to college in the midst of the pandemic.
1 min read
Twin brothers John and Jonathan Easter walk together in their hometown of Bradley, Ark. a few weeks before they are going to begin college on July 30, 2021.
Twin brothers John and Jonathan Easter walk together in their hometown of Bradley, Ark. a few weeks before they are going to begin college on July 30, 2021.
April Kirby/For Education Week
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion Can College-Going Be Less Risky Without Being 'Free'?
Rick Hess speaks with Peter Samuelson, president of Ardeo Education Solutions, about Ardeo's approach to make paying for college less risky.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Whitepaper
The State of Career and College Readiness in K–12: 2021 Report
In this report brought to you by Xello, uncover how educators across the US evaluate their CCR efforts today and the implications the COV...
Content provided by Xello
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion What Will It Take to Get High School Students Back on Track?
Three proven strategies can support high school graduation and postsecondary success—during and after the pandemic.
Robert Balfanz
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of students making choices based on guidance.
Viktoria Kurpas/iStock