Study Uncovers Skills and Education Necessary in Modern Workforce

New York — Sept. 26

U.S. unemployment hovers at 9 percent, and while 14 million Americans remain unemployed, the U.S. Department of Labor reported there are currently 3 million available jobs. Against this backdrop, 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 the study 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 adviser 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 job seekers seeking to stand out in the increasingly competitive job market."

In today's workplace, the labor force considers 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 far more likely to consider people management and communication skills (46 percent) as more important than work experience (38 percent).

Among the other key findings of the study:

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