Daily Archives: November 2, 2006

Is the Next Generation Ready for the Future?

The Conference Board, a major U.S. consulting firm, has come out with research indicated that most young people entering the U.S. workforce lack critical skills essential for success in the changing world. The findings reflect employers’ growing frustrations over the preparedness of new entrants to the workforce.

Employers expect young people to arrive with a core set of basic knowledge and the ability to apply their skills in the workplace – and the reality is not matching the expectation. Nearly 70% cite deficiencies among incoming high school graduates in “applied” skills, such as professionalism and work ethic, defined as “demonstrating personal accountability, effective work habits, e.g. punctuality, working productively with others, time and workload management.”

More than 40% of surveyed employers say incoming high school graduates hired are deficiently prepared for the entry-level jobs they fill. The report finds that recent high school graduates lack the basic skills in reading comprehension, writing and math, which many respondents say were needed for successful job performance.

The findings show an especially big gap in writing skills. Nearly 72% of incoming high school graduates are viewed as deficient in basic English writing skills, including grammar and spelling. 

Interestingly, workforce readiness of high school graduates was reported as adequate by a majority of survey participants in three areas considered critical for current and future workplace needs:

  • information technology
  • team work
  • diversity

The above came directly from a Conference Board statement. It details the problems with the next generation. Raised on sound bites and technology, it knows little about diagramming sentences or punctuation. Its expertise revolves more around speed than precision. Growing up in a postmodern world, they value creativity more than rules or conformity. 

Many of these young people are very bright. It is not as much a matter of intelligence as what interests them and what they are being taught. Learning will change a lot over the next few years. But one thing is true the basics will always be a good foundation for future. And one area these kids may need a refresher course on is the basics.