A new study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and University of Phoenix study explores disconnect between three million available jobs and high unemployment. Fifty-three percent of employers say their companies face a significant challenge in recruiting non-managerial employees with the skills, training, and education their company needs.
U.S. unemployment hovers at nine percent and while 14 million Americans remain unemployed, the U.S. Department of Labor reported there are currently three million available jobs. Against this backdrop, today the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and University of Phoenix announced a new report, Life in the 21st Century Workforce: A National Perspective, that paints a picture of the employment landscape and the key dynamics both workers and employers need to consider as they seek to promote excellence in the workplace.
Fifty-three percent of employers say their companies face a significant challenge in recruiting non-managerial employees with the skills, training, and education their company needs. The results summarized in Life in the 21st Century Workforce: A National Perspective indicate agreement across both employers and employees that education - including continuing education and advanced degrees - is critical to ensuring workers have the skills necessary to advance in their professions. They also agree that interpersonal skills, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving are important to providing the most benefit to employers and the workforce alike.
"There is considerable discussion focused on the skills employees need to succeed in the workplace," said Margaret Spellings, senior advisor to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and former U.S. Secretary of Education. "However, it's imperative we understand the issue from the inside-out in order to improve the way we prepare our future workforce. The results of Life in the 21st Century Workforce: A National Perspective can help inform employers, employees and jobseekers seeking to stand out in the increasingly competitive job market."
In today's workplace, the labor force considers past work experience (50%) to be the most important factor when companies are making hiring decisions, outdistancing people management and communication skills (27%). However, when it comes to being promoted, workers are far more likely to consider people management and communication skills (46%) as more important than past work experience (38%).
"Our nation is facing a critical disconnect between the skills our workforce brings to the job, and what businesses need," said Greg Cappelli, co-CEO of Apollo Group, parent company of University of Phoenix. "Despite the country's current unemployment levels, there are literally millions of jobs available for people with the right skills and the right education. We must look to the future and focus on providing students with a relevant education - one that prepares them with the expertise they need for successful careers in the workforce of tomorrow."
Heading back to school
Among the key findings of the Life in the 21st Century Workforce study:
- Eight-in-10 employers (80 percent) believe that education is critical to ensuring that workers have the competencies necessary to advance, and 72 percent of the labor pool agree.
- U.S. workers believe that going back to school will have a direct impact on their career: the most common reasons for going back to school are to advance their career (89 percent), increase their salary (89 percent) or gain training for a specific job (88 percent).
- Employers believe that increasing the number of workers who complete post-secondary education programs and receive a degree or credential will contribute to the success of their company.
Landing a job versus getting promoted
In today's workplace, the labor force considers past work experience (50 percent) to be the most important factor when companies are making hiring decisions, outdistancing people management and communication skills (27 percent).
However, when it comes to being promoted, workers are more likely to consider people management and communication skills (46 percent) as more important than past work experience (38 percent). And employees (77 percent) see continuing education as vitally important for success in their careers.
Walking the talk
Forty-six percent of workforce respondents say their company pays all (17 percent) or some portion (29 percent) of tuition. Meanwhile, 50 percent of employers say they have a tuition assistance program. In addition, 57 percent of employers interviewed offer flexible schedules to accommodate post-secondary education and training.
Choosing a program for success
Business leaders place a premium on post-secondary education programs preparing individuals for success in the workplace (56 percent), providing individuals with core academic knowledge and intellectual skills (51 percent) and providing individuals with the workforce skills and knowledge for success in a specific career (50 percent).
Conversely, employees place more weight on program elements that affect their day-to-day life; a flexible schedule is the most important attribute for workers (21 percent), while 16 percent say both cost of tuition and practical learning experiences are the most important.
The uphill battle
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that 14 million Americans remain unemployed. It is against this backdrop that just 19 percent of Americans believe things in the U.S. are headed in the right direction, while 73 percent say things are going in the wrong direction.
About the Surveys
The workforce survey findings presented here are part of a multi-audience, multi-location research project sponsored by the University of Phoenix. Telephone interviews were conducted among a random national sampling of 500 workforce members 18-54 years of age between April 6 and 18, 2011. The sampling error for the sample is +/- 4.4 percentage points. Survey interviewing and analysis were completed by APCO Insight, an international opinion research and consulting firm.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce/Civic Enterprises study of employers was conducted September 7-16, 2010 among a random national sample of 450 business leaders at companies with 50 or more employees. Respondents included C-suite level executives, senior vice presidents, officers, and vice presidents at companies across sectors. The online survey was designed and conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates. The report was commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.