Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What Do Employers Want?

Mark asked a question during our September 22nd session with cohort 2 regarding what did companies want to see out of our graduates - what kinds of skills and abilities and "habits of mind" were employers looking for. Everything I've read indicates that they want what we are trying to help our students become: creative and critical thinkers, problems solvers, producers of information, innovators, knowledgeable of and participants in a global community, expert navigators of 21st century technologies. This story about a survey that was released this week seems to confirm that. While employers still want students with good, solid basic skills who are responsible and have a good work ethic, they seem to be more concerned with other issues.

Here are some excerpts:
The report is based on a detailed survey of 431 human-resource officials that was conducted earlier this year 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.

. . . Business leaders report that while the three "Rs" are still fundamental to every employee's ability to do the job, applied skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, and communication also are essential for success. In fact, at all educational levels, these applied skills trump basic knowledge skills in importance in the view of employers. The survey found, however, that too many new entrants to the workforce are not adequately prepared in these important skills.

. . . "This study should serve as an alert to educators, policy makers, and those concerned with U.S. economic competitiveness that we may be facing a skills shortage," said Susan R. Meisinger, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. "In a knowledge-based economy, a talented workforce with communication and critical-thinking skills is necessary for organizations and the U.S. to be successful."

. . . Looking toward the future, nearly three-fourths of survey participants ranked "creativity/innovation" as among the top five applied skills projected to increase in importance for future graduates.
You can also download the full report.


  1. I'd like to think that this is accurate. Things are evolving so quickly now that soon the basic skills we need now, such as spelling, will be nearly obsolete. Obviously, it would be lovely if people could still use proper grammar, even with the lovely spell-check, but I digress. The business world is changing as quickly as the technological world. we need to skills to keep up.

  2. Your post reminds me of a quote I found just recently..."Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." A. Einstein