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How do employers comply with the skills development act

Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills and how do employers measure knowledge skills and abilities
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Dr.AshleyBurciaga,France,Researcher
Published Date:05-07-2017
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Are They Really Ready To Work? Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied st Skills of New Entrants to the 21 Century U.S. Workforceabout this report In collaboration, The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, the st Partnership for 21 Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management conducted an in-depth study of the corporate perspective on the readiness of new entrants into the U.S. workforce by level of educational attainment. The study includes results from both an in-depth survey conducted during April and May 2006 and interviews with a sampling of a dozen HR and other senior executives. In addition, a Workforce Readiness Report Card is presented to provide an accessible snapshot of the basic knowledge and applied skills that are either “deficient” or “excellent” in those areas that employer respondents rate as “very important.” This research defines Workforce Readiness by asking employer respondents: 1. Whether or not the skill levels that new entrants are currently bringing to their jobs are deemed “excellent,” “adequate,” or “deficient,” 2. What basic knowledge and applied skills they consider “very important,” “important,” or “not important.” Basic knowledge refers to the academic subjects and skills acquired in school. Applied skills refer to those that enable new entrants to use what they learned in school to perform in the workplace. (See Definition of Terms, pages 15–16.) 3. How the importance of these skills may change over the next five years, 4. What emerging content areas are considered “most critical” over the next five years, and 5. What are the nature and costs of remedial training or initiatives, if basic skills are lacking. The data are typically presented throughout the report separately for high school, two-year college/technical school, and four-year college levels.Are They Really Ready To Work? Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills st of New Entrants to the 21 Century U.S. Workforce Contents 4 About the Consortium 5 Acknowledgments 7 Presidents’ Letter 9 Executive Summary 15 Definition of Terms The Findings 17 Part 1: Determining the Current Basic Knowledge and Applied Skill Requirements for Workforce Readiness 30 Part 2: Assessing the Recent Entrants’ Preparation in Terms of Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills 40 Part 3: Report Card on Workforce Readiness 44 Part 4: Considering Remedial Basic Skills Training 48 Part 5: Defining Future Workforce Readiness—Increasingly Important Skills and Emerging Content Areas 53 Part 6: Assuming Responsibility for Workforce Readiness 57 Actions 60 Appendix: About the Surveyabout the consortium The Conference Board creates and disseminates knowledge about management and the marketplace to help businesses strengthen their performance and better serve society. Working as a global, independent membership organization in the public interest, The Conference Board conducts research, convenes conferences, makes forecasts, assesses trends, publishes information and analysis, and brings executives together to learn from one another. The Conference Board is a not-for-profit organization and holds 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States. www.conference-board.org Corporate Voices for Working Families is a non-partisan non-profit corporate membership organization created to bring the private sector voice into the public dialogue on issues affecting working families. Collectively our 52 partner companies employ more than 4 million individuals throughout all fifty states, with annual net revenues of 1 trillion. Over 70% of our partner companies are listed in the Fortune 500, and all share Leadership positions in developing family support policies for their own workforces. This experience is the primary asset Corporate Voices brings to the ongoing dialogue with policy makers and other stakeholders. www.cvworkingfamilies.org st The Partnership for 21 Century Skills has emerged as the leading advocacy st organization focused on infusing 21 century skills into education. The organization brings together the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to st define a powerful vision for 21 century education to ensure every child’s success st as citizens and workers in the 21 century. The Partnership encourages schools, st districts and states to advocate for the infusion of 21 century skills into education and provides tools and resources to help facilitate and drive change. www.21stcenturyskills.org The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 210,000 individual members, the Society’s mission is to serve the needs of HR professionals by providing the most essential and comprehensive resources available. As an influential voice, the Society’s mission is also to advance the human resource profession to ensure that HR is recognized as an essential partner in developing and executing organizational strategy. Founded in 1948, SHRM currently has more than 550 affiliated chapters within the United States and members in more than 100 countries. www.shrm.orgAre They Really Ready to Work? 5 Acknowledgments The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, the Philip Morris USA Youth Smoking Prevention, based on st Partnership for 21 Century Skills, and the Society for Human information from public health authorities, as well as guidance Resource Management wish to acknowledge the following from an advisory board of youth development experts, supports sponsors for their generous contribution to the financial initiatives that follow a Positive Youth Development approach. underwriting of this report. Our parent communications promote positive relationships between parents and their children; our grant-making to schools The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) has worked to build and youth-serving organizations helps support positive development better futures for disadvantaged children and their families in the and healthy alternatives for kids; and our youth access prevention United States since 1948. The primary mission of the Foundation initiatives promote positive environments where kids do not is to foster public policies, human service reforms, and community have access to cigarettes. supports that more effectively meet the needs of today's www.philipmorrisusa.com vulnerable children and families. www.aecf.org SAP is the world’s leading provider of business software— from distinct solutions addressing the needs of small and Dell Inc. listens to customers and delivers innovative technology midsize businesses to enterprise-scale suite applications for and services they trust and value. Uniquely enabled by its direct global organizations. The company helps drive innovation and business model, Dell sells more systems globally than any accelerate growth for its customers, the IT sector and itself computer company, placing it No. 25 on the Fortune 500. through its global reach, industry expertise and comprehensive www.dell.com portfolio of business applications and industry solution portfolios. www.sap.com The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than half a century it has been a resource State Farm insures more cars than any other insurer in North for innovative people and institutions worldwide, guided by its America and is the leading U.S. home insurer. State Farm's goals of strengthening democratic values, reducing poverty and 17,800 agents and 68,000 employees serve over 74 million injustice, promoting international cooperation and advancing auto, fire, life and health policies in the United States and human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the Canada. State Farm also offers customers banking, annuities foundation has offices in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin and mutual fund products. State Farm Mutual Automobile America, and Russia. Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of www.fordfound.org companies. State Farm is ranked No.22 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. Microsoft, as a demonstration of its ongoing commitment to www.statefarm.com education and learning, has launched a new global initiative called Partners in Learning. Under Partners in Learning, Microsoft The authors also acknowledge superior project management is partnering with Government, Ministries of Education, and other and research assistance by Wennie Lee; quantitative analysis key stakeholders to offer a spectrum of education resources, by Laura Pilossoph, who contributed beyond measure to the tools, programs, and practices to empower students and teachers successful outcome of this project; and the professionalism and to realize their full potential. dedication of The Conference Board editorial and production www.microsoft.com staff, who processed and perfected this written report. We also thank all the interviewees for this report, those quoted Pearson Education, educating 100 million people worldwide, is by name and those who provided valuable and unquoted the global leader in integrated education publishing. With such insight and advice. renowned brands as Pearson Prentice Hall, Pearson Longman, Pearson Scott Foresman, Pearson Addison Wesley, Pearson NCS, and many others, Pearson Education provides quality content, assessment tools, and educational services in all available media, spanning the learning curve from birth through college and beyond. www.pearsoned.comAre They Really Ready to Work? 7 Presidents’ Letter st hat skills are necessary for success in the workplace of the 21 century? And do new entrants to the workforce, graduates of high school, two-year and four-year colleges W have those skills? These and other questions were posed in a survey of human resource professionals mounted in the spring of 2006 by The Conference Board, Corporate st Voices for Working Families, the Partnership for 21 Century Skills and the Society for Human Resource Management. It is our hope that through our combined resources, reputations, and strong member bases that the business community, educators, policy makers, students and their families will listen to what employers collectively think of the new workforce in America. The results indicate that the U.S. is not doing enough, fast enough, to prepare for a vibrant economic future for our children and our nation. Young people need a range of skills, both basic academic skills as well as the ability to apply these skills and knowledge in the workplace. The survey results indicate that far too many young people are inadequately prepared to be successful in the workplace. At the high school level, well over one-half of new entrants are deficiently prepared in the most important skills— Oral and Written Communications, Professionalism/Work Ethic, and Critical Thinking/ Problem Solving. College graduates are better prepared, with lower levels of deficiency on the most important skills, but too few are excelling. Only about one-quarter of four-year college graduates are perceived to be excellent in many of the most important skills, and more than one-quarter of four-year college graduates are perceived to be deficiently prepared in Written Communications. How can the United States continue to compete in a global economy if the entering workforce is made up of high school graduates who lack the skills they need, and of college graduates who are mostly “adequate” rather than “excellent”? The quandary is particularly problematic because it comes just as the workforce is entering a period of realignment. As the baby-boomers retire—taking their skills and knowledge with them—America faces a shortage of available workers. This report indicates that the pool of talented workers available is even smaller. So, what are the solutions? All of us must do our part to ensure that our students are well- st prepared for the workforce demands of the 21 century. The education and business communities must agree that applied skills integrated with core academic subjects are the “design specs” for creating an educational system that will prepare our high school and college graduates to succeed in the modern workplace and community life. These skills are in demand for all students, regardless of their future plans, and will have an enormous impact on our students’ ability to compete.8 Are They Really Ready to Work? Business leaders must take an active role in outlining the kinds of skills we need from our employees for our companies and economy to thrive. This report is a first step in articulating these necessary skills. But we can do much more than that. As business leaders, we must also play a role in creating opportunities for young people to obtain the skills they need. Businesses can partner with schools and other organizations that work with young people to provide internships, job shadowing programs and summer jobs. Businesses can encourage their employees to serve as mentors and tutors. Businesses can invest in programs at the local and national level that have demonstrated their ability to improve outcomes for young people. Finally, business leaders can use their expertise in innovation and management to help identify new and creative solutions. This report underscores the importance of increased workforce readiness. This requirement is now more important than ever because of our increasingly complex knowledge- and technology- based global economy. The business community must speak with one voice: new entrants to the U.S. workforce must be equipped with the basic knowledge and applied skills necessary to be st competitive in the global economy of the 21 century. We hope the messages found in the results of this study will inspire action. Richard E. Cavanagh Ken Kay President and CEO President st The Conference Board Partnership for 21 Century Skills Donna Klein Susan R. Meisinger President and CEO President and CEO Corporate Voices for Working Families Society for Human Resource ManagementAre They Really Ready to Work? 9 Executive Summary he future U.S. workforce is here—and it is woefully ill-prepared for the demands of today’s (and tomorrow’s) workplace. So say employers in a unique study by The Conference Board, st T Corporate Voices for Working Families, Partnership for 21 Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management, which looks at the readiness of new entrants to the workforce. Knowing how employers view these new entrants is an important first step in enabling both these new entrants and U.S. business to succeed on the global economic playing field. The four participating organizations jointly surveyed over 400 employers across the United States. These employers articulate the skill sets that new entrants—recently hired graduates from high school, two-year colleges or technical schools, and four-year colleges—need to succeed in the workplace. Among the most important skills cited by employers: Professionalism/Work Ethic � Oral and Written Communications � Teamwork/Collaboration and � Critical Thinking/Problem Solving. � 1 In fact, the findings indicate that applied skills on all educational levels trump basic knowledge and skills, such as Reading Comprehension and Mathematics. In other words, while the “three Rs” are still fundamental to any new workforce entrant’s ability to do the job, employers emphasize that applied skills like Teamwork/Collaboration and Critical Thinking are “very important” to success at work. Basic Knowledge/Skills Applied Skills English Language (spoken) Critical Thinking/Problem Solving Reading Comprehension (in English) Oral Communications Writing in English (grammar, spelling, etc.) Written Communications Mathematics Teamwork/Collaboration Science Diversity Government/Economics Information Technology Application Humanities/Arts Leadership Foreign Languages Creativity/Innovation History/Geography Lifelong Learning/Self Direction Professionalism/Work Ethic Ethics/Social Responsibility 1 Applied skills refer to those skills that enable new entrants to use the basic knowledge acquired in school to perform in the workplace.10 Are They Really Ready to Work? A Poor Report Card When asked to assess new workforce entrants, employers report that many of the new entrants lack 2 skills essential to job success. A Workforce Readiness Report Card presents each of the three educational levels considered in the study (see page 41). Employers expect young people to arrive in the workplace with a set of basic and applied skills, and the Workforce Readiness Report Card makes clear that the reality is not matching expectations. The Workforce Readiness Report Card for new entrants with a high school diploma does not have � a single item in the Excellence List. All 10 skills that a majority of employer respondents rate as “very important” to workforce success are on the Deficiency List. For two-year college-educated entrants, one “very important” applied skill—Information Technology � Application—appears on the Excellence List while seven skills appear on the Deficiency List. Only for the four-year college-educated entrants to the workforce is the Excellence List longer than � the Deficiency List on the Report Card. Encouraging news, however, is the appearance of Creativity/Innovation on the Excellence List for four-year college-educated entrants. Creativity and innovation are important drivers for the economic progress of individual businesses and for the economy-at-large. It should be noted, however, that Creativity/Innovation barely clears the threshold for placement on the Excellence List. The report’s findings reflect employers’ growing frustrations over the lack of skills they see in new workforce entrants. Which skills do employers view as “very important” now and which are increasing in importance? A combination of basic knowledge and applied skills are perceived to be critical for new entrants’ st success in the 21 century U.S. workforce, but when basic knowledge and applied skills rankings are combined for each educational level, the top five “most important” are almost always applied skills. Professionalism/Work Ethic, Teamwork/Collaboration and Oral Communications are rated as the � three “most important” applied skills needed by entrants into today’s workforce. Knowledge of Foreign Languages will “increase in importance” in the next five years, more than � any other basic skill, according to over 60 percent (63.3 percent) of the employer respondents. Making Appropriate Choices Concerning Health and Wellness is the No. 1 emerging content area � for future graduates entering the U.S. workforce as reported by three-quarters of the employer 3 respondents (76.1 percent). Creativity/Innovation is projected to “increase in importance” for future workforce entrants, � according to more than 70 percent (73.6 percent) of employer respondents. Currently, however, more than half of employer respondents (54.2 percent) report new workforce entrants with a high school diploma to be “deficient” in this skill set, and relatively few consider two-year and four-year college-educated entrants to be “excellent” (4.1 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively). 2 Skills rated “very important” by a majority of employer respondents appear on either the Excellence List or on the Deficiency List of the Report Card if at least 1 in 5 employer respondents rate new entrants’ skill readiness as “excellent” or “deficient,” respectively. 3 Emerging content areas refer to topics not typically emphasized in schools today, such as personal financial responsibility.Are They Really Ready to Work? 11 “ Our nation’s long-term ability to succeed in exporting to the growing global marketplace hinges on the abilities of today’s students.” J. Willard Marriott, Jr., Chairman and CEO, Marriott International, Inc. In the next five years, college graduates will continue to increase in number among new hires. More than one-quarter of employer respondents (27.7 percent) project that over the next five years their companies will reduce hiring of new entrants with only a high school diploma. Almost 60 percent (58.8 percent) project that their companies will increase hiring of four-year college graduates and about half (49.5 percent) project increased hiring of two-year college/technical school graduates. Improvements Needed The results of this study leave little doubt that improvements are needed in the readiness of new workforce entrants, if “excellence” is the standard for global competitiveness. While the employer respondents report that some new workforce entrants have “excellent” basic knowledge and applied skills, significant “deficiencies” exist among entrants at every educational level, especially those coming directly from high school. High School Graduates are: “Deficient” in the basic knowledge and skills of Writing in English, Mathematics, � and Reading Comprehension, “Deficient” in Written Communications and Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, � both of which may be dependent on basic knowledge and skills, “Deficient” in Professionalism/Work Ethic, and � “Adequate” in three “very important” applied skills: Information Technology Application, � Diversity, and Teamwork/Collaboration. Two-Year and Four-College Graduates are: Better prepared than high school graduates for the entry-level jobs they fill, � “Deficient” in Writing in English and Written Communications, and � “Deficient” in Leadership. �12 Are They Really Ready to Work? Demographic Issues Warrant Action With significant numbers of workers retiring over the next 10 years, the United States is facing a serious challenge in preparing students to meet workplace demands in an increasingly complex, knowledge- and technology-based, global economy. The results of this study reinforce the need for action. The demographic and economic changes facing the United States today have major implications for the worker, the workplace, and for U.S. competitiveness. Over half (57 percent) of U.S. CEOs report education and workforce preparedness is � a “very important” or “most important” policy issue. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of those CEOs who report having difficulty finding qualified workers in the U.S. rate 4 global competitiveness as “very important” or “most important.” Between 2000 and 2010, the number of workers ages 35-44 will decrease by 10 percent � 5 and those aged 16–24 will increase by 15 percent. Between 2000 and 2015, about 85 percent of newly created U.S. jobs will require education � 6 beyond high school. 4 The Business Council Survey of Chief Executives: CEO Survey Results, February 2006. The Business Council and The Conference Board, Chart 4 and p. 7. 5 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Winter 2001-02. 6 Gunderson, Steve; Jones, Roberts; and Scanland, Kathryn, The Jobs Revolution: Changing How America Works, 2005. Copywriters Incorporated, a division of The Greystone Group, Inc. The study’s findings are valuable to new (and future) workforce entrants, as well as to business people, educators, policy makers, and members of community organizations—anyone who has an interest in ensuring the success of new entrants into the U.S. workforce. The preparedness and skill levels of its workforce are critical factors in the ability of the United States to stay competitive st in the 21 century. Across the U.S. alarm bells are sounding in the business community about educating tomorrow’s workforce. This study’s results are consistent with important initiatives launched by a number of other business organizations in response to a growing talent gap and to the impact that gap has on 7 the United States’ ability to maintain its competitive lead in the world economy. The business community, as represented in part by this research consortium, is speaking with one voice, calling st for higher standards of workforce excellence consistent with the demands of the 21 century. 7 Tapping America’s Potential, July 2005. The Business Roundtable; Innovate America: Thriving in a World of Challenge and Change, July 2004. National Innovation Initiative, Council on Competitiveness; Pawlowski, Brett, Notes from the 2005 Business Education Network Summit, October 2005. U.S. Chamber of Commerce, DeHavill and Associates; 2005 Skills Gap Report—A Survey of the American Manufacturing Workforce, November 2005. National Association of Manufacturers, Manufacturers Institute, and Deloitte Consulting LLP.Are They Really Ready to Work? 13 Summary of Results by Educational Level High School Graduate Entrants Falling Short in Overall Preparation for Entry-Level Jobs Over 40 percent (42.4 percent) of employer respondents rate new entrants with a high school diploma as “deficient” in their Overall Preparation for the entry-level jobs they typically fill. Almost the same percentage (45.6 percent) rate the Overall Preparation of high school graduate entrants as “adequate,” but almost no one (less than ½ of 1 percent—0.2 percent) rates their Overall Preparation as “excellent.” Many Report “Deficiencies” in Three “Very Important” Basic Skills Writing in English—72.0 percent of employer respondents rate new entrants with a high school diploma as “deficient.” Almost half (49.4 percent) of them say basic Writing in English, including grammar and spelling, are “very important” for high school graduates’ successful job performance. Mathematics—53.5 percent of employer respondents report high school graduate entrants as “deficient.” Almost one-third of respondents (30.4 percent) say knowledge of Mathematics is “very important” for this group of entrants. Reading Comprehension —38.4 percent of employer respondents report high school graduate entrants as “deficient.” Nearly two-thirds of respondents (62.5 percent) say Reading Comprehension is “very important” for high school graduate entrants’ success in the workforce. Most Report “Deficiencies” in Applied Skills Written Communications—80.9 percent of employer respondents report high school graduate entrants as “deficient.” More than half (52.7 percent) say Written Communications, which includes writing memos, letters, complex reports clearly and effectively, is “very important” for high school graduates’ successful job performance. Professionalism/Work Ethic—70.3 percent of employer respondents report high school graduate entrants as “deficient.” Professionalism/Work Ethic, defined as “demonstrating personal accountability, effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, time and workload management” is rated “very important” for high school graduates’ successful job performance by 80.3 percent of employer respondents. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving—69.6 percent of employer respondents report high school graduate entrants as “deficient.” More than half of the employer respondents (57.5 percent) indicate that Critical Thinking/Problem Solving abilities are “very important” to successful performance on the job for this group of new entrants. “Adequate” in Three “Very Important” Applied Skills While “excellence” is infrequently reported, over 60 percent of employer respondents rate the preparation of high school graduate entrants as “adequate” in three applied skills considered “very important” for successful job performance by a majority of employers—Information Technology (IT) Application, Diversity, and Teamwork/Collaboration.14 Are They Really Ready to Work? IT Application—62.8 percent report high school graduate entrants’ preparation is “adequate.” IT Application is rated “very important” by 53.0 percent of employer respondents. Diversity—61.8 percent report high school graduate entrants’ preparation is “adequate.” Diversity is rated “very important” by 52.1 percent of employer respondents. Teamwork/Collaboration—60.9 percent of employer respondents rate high school graduate entrants’ preparation as “adequate.” Teamwork/Collaboration is considered “very important” by nearly three-quarters (74.7 percent) of employer respondents. Two-Year and Four-Year College Graduates “Adequate” in General Preparation for the Entry-Level Jobs They Typically Fill Employer respondents were asked, in general, how they rated the preparation of recent graduates hired for entry-level jobs in their U.S. workplaces (Overall Preparation). The majority of employer respondents rate Overall Preparation of both two-year and four-year college graduates as “adequate” (70.1 percent and 64.5 percent, respectively) for the entry-level jobs they fill. A small percentage reports that two-year and four-year college-educated entrants are “excellent” in terms of their Overall Preparation (10.3 percent and 23.9 percent, respectively). On a more positive note, only a small percentage of employer respondents (10.8 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively) rates two-year and four-year college graduates as “deficient” in their Overall Preparation for work. “Deficiencies” in Basic Knowledge of Writing in English and in Written Communications, Even with a College Diploma Writing in English—46.4 percent of employer respondents report new workforce entrants with a two-year college diploma as “deficient,” and over a quarter (26.2 percent) report that new workforce entrants with a four-year college diploma are “deficient.” Almost two-thirds of employer respondents (64.9) say Writing in English is “very important” for two-year college graduates; almost 90 percent (89.7 percent) say these skills are “very important” for four-year college graduates. Written Communications—47.3 percent and 27.8 percent of employer respondents, respectively, report new entrants with two-year and four-year college diplomas as “deficient.” Almost three-quarters of the employer respondents (71.5 percent) say Written Communications is “very important” for two-year college graduates. For four-year college graduates, 93.1 percent say Written Communications is “very important.” “Deficiencies” in a “Very Important” Applied Skill: Leadership Leadership—42.6 percent of employer respondents report two-year college-educated entrants as “deficient,” and almost a quarter (23.8 percent) report four-year college-educated entrants “deficient.” This “deficiency” is the second most frequently rated “deficient” skill for both two-and four-year college graduates. Leadership is rated as a “very important” applied skill for new entrants with a two-year college diploma by 45.4 percent of employer respondents. An overwhelming majority (81.8 percent) rate Leadership as “very important” for new entrants with a four-year college diploma.Are They Really Ready to Work? 15 Definition of Terms The following are key terms used in the survey and interview process. Adequate, Deficient, and Excellent refer to the three levels of proficiency presented on the survey which the employer respondents used for rating the basic knowledge and applied skills of new entrants into the workforce. In the context of this report, “deficient” means lacking or poorly prepared, “adequate” means sufficient or satisfactory preparation, and “excellent” refers to the highest level or superior preparation. Applied Skills refer to those skills that enable new entrants to use the basic knowledge they have acquired in school to perform in the workplace. Applied skills include those based on cognitive abilities such as Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, as well as more social and behavioral skills such as Professionalism/Work Ethic. Some of the other applied skills, such as Oral Communications and Teamwork/Collaboration, combine both cognitive abilities and social skills. See list, page 16. Basic Knowledge refers to (1) basic skills—English Language (spoken), Reading Comprehension, Writing in English, and Mathematics, and 2) other academic subjects: Science, Government, Economics, Humanities/Arts, Foreign Languages, and History/Geography. These are the basic skill and knowledge areas normally acquired in school and, for the most part, are the core academic subjects identified by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. See list, page 16. Cognitive Abilities refer to mental learning and thinking abilities, such as language, reading, writing, and math skills. As defined, applied skills may be underpinned by cognitive abilities. Core Competencies refer to the knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors that contribute to an employee’s job success and that are often included in corporate human resource development plans. Emerging Content Areas refer to topics typically not emphasized in schools today, such as personal financial planning and career management. Employer Respondents refer to those individuals completing the survey. New Entrants refer to recent or new entrants with one of three levels of educational attainment: high school diploma, two-year college or technical school diploma, or four-year college diploma. Post-secondary Graduates refer to both two-year college/technical school graduates and four-year college graduates. Two-Year College in the context of the report includes technical schools when not explicitly stated.16 Are They Really Ready to Work? List of Skills Basic Knowledge/Skills English Language (spoken) Government/Economics Reading Comprehension (in English) Humanities/Arts Writing in English (grammar, spelling, etc.) Foreign Languages Mathematics History/Geography Science Applied Skills Critical Thinking/Problem Solving—Exercise sound reasoning and analytical thinking; use knowledge, facts, and data to solve workplace problems; apply math and science concepts to problem solving. Oral Communications—Articulate thoughts, ideas clearly and effectively; have public speaking skills. Written Communications—Write memos, letters and complex technical reports clearly and effectively. Teamwork/Collaboration—Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers; be able to work with diverse teams, negotiate and manage conflicts. Diversity—Learn from and work collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, races, ages, gender, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. Information Technology Application—Select and use appropriate technology to accomplish a given task, apply computing skills to problem-solving. Leadership—Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals; use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. Creativity/Innovation—Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work; communicate new ideas to others; integrate knowledge across different disciplines. Lifelong Learning/Self Direction—Be able to continuously acquire new knowledge and skills; monitor one’s own learning needs; be able to learn from one’s mistakes. Professionalism/Work Ethic—Demonstrate personal accountability, effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time and workload management. Ethics/Social Responsibility—Demonstrate integrity and ethical behavior; act responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind. For the most part, this list of basic knowledge and skill areas includes the core academic subjects as identified by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. st The list of applied skills was derived primarily from the Partnership for 21 Century Skills. In addition, several members of The Conference Board’s Business and Education Council were consulted.The Findings Part 1 Determining the Current Basic Knowledge and Applied Skill Requirements for Workforce Readiness Employer respondents were asked to indicate which basic knowledge and applied skill areas (see Definition of Terms on pages 15–16) they rate as “not important,” “important” or “very important” for new entrants’ successful job performance. The findings indicate that, for the most part, what employer respondents rate as “very important” for entry-level jobs is similar across the three educational levels. However, their responses indicate that, in general, the importance of the basic knowledge and applied skill requirements for entry-level jobs increases as the educational level of those recent hires increased.18 Are They Really Ready to Work? Basic Knowledge—High School/College For high school graduates, the top five basic knowledge areas and skills are: Reading Comprehension (in English) with nearly two-thirds (62.5 percent) of employer respondents rating this skill as “very important,” followed by English Language (spoken) (61.8 percent), Writing in English (49.4 percent), Mathematics (30.4 percent), and Foreign Languages (11.0 percent). Knowledge of Science is close behind Foreign Languages with 9.0 percent saying Science is “very important” for high school graduates. For two-year college graduates, nearly three-quarters of the employer respondents say Reading Comprehension (in English) (71.6 percent) and English Language (spoken) (70.6 percent) are “very important” for successful job performance. Over 60 percent (64.9 percent) rate Writing in English as “very important,” while 44.0 percent and 21.2 percent rate Mathematics and Science as “very important,” respectively. For four-year college graduates, the majority of the employer respondents rate Writing in English (89.7 percent), English Language (spoken) (88.0 percent), and Reading Comprehension (in English) (87.0 percent) as “very important” for successful job performance, while almost two-thirds (64.2 percent) rate Mathematics as “very important.” One-third (33.4 percent) rate Science as “very important.” In comparison, less than 20 percent rate the other academic areas, such as Government/Economics (19.8 percent), and History/Geography (14.1 percent), as “very important.” Table 1 A majority of employer respondents view Reading Comprehension and English Language as "very important" basic skills for job success for new workforce entrants at all education levels. High School Graduates Two-Year College Graduates Four-Year College Graduates Rank Basic Knowledge/Skills Rank Basic Knowledge/Skills Rank Basic Knowledge/Skills 1 Reading Comprehension . . . 62.5% 1 Reading Comprehension . . . 71.6% 1 Writing in English . . . . . . . . . 89.7% 2 English Language . . . . . . . . . 61.8 2 English Language . . . . . . . . . 70.6 2 English Language . . . . . . . . . 88.0 3 Writing in English . . . . . . . . . 49.4 3 Writing in English . . . . . . . . . 64.9 3 Reading Comprehension . . . 87.0 4 Mathematics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30.4 4 Mathematics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44.0 4 Mathematics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64.2 5 Foreign Languages . . . . . . . . 11.0 5 Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.2 5 Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33.4 6 Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.0 6 Foreign Languages . . . . . . . . 14.1 6 Foreign Languages . . . . . . . . 21.0 7 Government/Economics . . . 3.5 7 Government/Economics . . . 6.7 7 Government/Economics . . . 19.8 8 History/Geography . . . . . . . 2.1 8 Humanities/Arts . . . . . . . . . 4.4 8 History/Geography . . . . . . . 14.1 9 Humanities/Arts . . . . . . . . . 1.8 9 History/Geography . . . . . . . 3.6 9 Humanities/Arts . . . . . . . . . 13.2 Basic knowledge/skills rank ordered by percent Basic knowledge/skills rank ordered by percent Basic knowledge/skills rank ordered by percent rating as “very important.” rating as “very important.” rating as “very important.” Number of respondents varied for each question, Number of respondents varied for each question, Number of respondents varied for each question, ranging from 336 to 361. ranging from 334 to 360. ranging from 382 to 409.Are They Really Ready to Work? 19 Writing in English—High School/College Writing in English is rated “very important” for high school graduates by nearly half of the employer respondents (49.4 percent). This skill becomes increasingly “important” for two-year and four-year college graduates (64.9 percent and 89.7 percent respectively), according to employer respondents. Mathematics—High School/College Thirty percent (30.4 percent) of employer respondents rate knowledge of Mathematics as “very important” for high school graduates’ successful job performance at the entry level. Compare this to the 44.0 percent and 64.2 percent of employer respondents who rate Mathematics as “very important” for two-year and four-year college graduates, respectively. Science—High School/College Nine percent (9.0 percent) of employer respondents rate Science as “very important” for high school graduates. However, 20.3 percent of the employer respondents in the manufacturing industries rate Science as “very important” for high school graduates. While it may be that the employer respondents do not view Science as a “very important” requirement for a high school graduate’s entry-level job, 39.4 percent of employer respondents rate Science as “important” for high school graduate entrants’ successful job performance. Science increases in importance for two-year and four-year college graduates. More than one in five respondents (21.2 percent) rate Science as “very important” for two-year college graduates, and 33.4 percent for four-year college graduates. Foreign Languages—High School/College The knowledge of Foreign Languages is included in the top five as a “very important” basic skill for high school graduates. However, the proportion of employer respondents rating this skill as “very important” is low in comparison with the other knowledge and skill components appearing in the top five. Only 11.0 percent of employer respondents rate knowledge of Foreign Languages as “very important” for current job performance. Yet, as illustrated on page 49, 63.3 percent of responding employers report Foreign Languages as increasingly “important” for high school and college graduates—more so than any other basic knowledge area or skill. Other Basic Knowledge—High School/College No more than 20 percent of employer respondents rate the other academic subjects (Government/ Economics, Humanities/Arts and History/Geography) as “very important” for high school, two-year college, and four-year college graduates. Notable percentages of employer respondents (a quarter or more), however, rate these other knowledge areas as “important” for the three educational groups. As illustrated in the interviews and the examples reported, when those other basic knowledge areas are considered in the context of workplace needs and emerging trends, employer respondents’ comments suggest that basic knowledge beyond reading, writing, and mathematics is relevant.20 Are They Really Ready to Work? 8 Applied Skills —High School/College When asked to rate the importance of applied skills to current high school and college graduates’ successful entry-level job performance, substantial majorities of employer respondents report applied skills as being “very important,” their responses were consistent across the three educational levels. For high school graduates, the five most frequently reported applied skills considered “very important” for successful entry level job performance are: Professionalism/Work Ethic (80.3 percent), Teamwork/Collaboration (74.7 percent), Oral Communications (70.3 percent), Ethics/Social Responsibility (63.4 percent), and Critical Thinking/Problem Solving (57.5 percent). For two-year college graduates, the five most frequently reported applied skills considered “very important” are: Professionalism/Work Ethic (83.4 percent), Teamwork/Collaboration (82.7 percent), Oral Communications (82.0 percent), Critical Thinking/Problem Solving (72.7 percent), and Written Communications (71.5 percent). For four-year college graduates, the five most frequently reported applied skills considered “very important” are: Oral Communications (95.4 percent), Teamwork/Collaboration (94.4 percent), Professionalism/Work Ethic (93.8 percent), Written Communications (93.1 percent), and Critical Thinking/Problem Solving (92.1 percent). Table 2 Professionalism, Communications, Teamwork, and Critical Thinking among top five “very important” applied skills for job success for new workforce entrants at all education levels. High School Graduates Two-Year College/Tech. School Grads. Four-Year College Graduates Rank Applied Skill Rank Applied Skill Rank Applied Skill 1 Professionalism/Work Ethic . . 80.3% 1 Professionalism/Work Ethic . . 83.4% 1 Oral Communications . . . . . . 95.4% 2 Teamwork/Collaboration . . . . 74.7 2 Teamwork/Collaboration . . . . 82.7 2 Teamwork/Collaboration . . . 94.4 3 Oral Communications . . . . . . . 70.3 3 Oral Communications . . . . . . . 82.0 3 Professionalism/Work Ethic 93.8 4 Ethics/Social Responsibility . . 63.4 4 Critical Thinking/ 4 Written Communications . . . 93.1 Problem Solving . . . . . . . . . . . 72.7 5 Critical Thinking/ 5 Critical Thinking/ Problem Solving . . . . . . . . . . . 57.5 5 Written Communications . . . . 71.5 Problem Solving . . . . . . . . . . 92.1 6 Information Technology 6 Ethics/Social Responsibility . . 70.6 6 Ethics/Social Responsibility 85.6 Application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53.0 7 Information Technology 7 Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81.8 7 Written Communications . . . . 52.7 Application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68.6 8 Information Technology 8 Diversity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52.1 8 Lifelong Learning/ Application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81.0 Self Direction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58.3 9 Lifelong Learning/ 9 Creativity/Innovation . . . . . . 81.0 Self Direction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42.5 9 Diversity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56.9 10 Lifelong Learning/ 10 Creativity/Innovation . . . . . . . 36.3 10 Creativity/Innovation . . . . . . . 54.2 Self Direction . . . . . . . . . . . . 78.3 11 Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29.2 11 Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45.4 11 Diversity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71.8 Basic skills rank ordered by percent rating as Basic skills rank ordered by percent rating as Basic skills rank ordered by percent rating as “very important.” “very important.” “very important.” Number of respondents varied for each question, Number of respondents varied for each question, Number of respondents varied for each question, ranging from 352 to 356. ranging from 354 to 359. ranging from 402 to 409. 8 As noted in Definition of Terms, Applied Skills refer to those skills that enable new entrants to use the basic knowledge they have acquired in school to perform in the workplace.