An recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal might be of interest to parents whose children will seek jobs soon or several years from now.
The column, by Nick Schulz, cites a Society for Human Resource Management and AARP study that says the top basic skill lacking in many applicants, when compared to the older workers they eventually will replace, is a command of grammar and spelling. About half of the organizations surveyed reported that professionalism/work ethic is the top applied skill lacking in younger workers. According to the study, some businesses are planning how to cope with a job force lacking in skills and work ethics.
It’s not surprising that many job applicants lack basic grammar and spelling skills when, according to the latest Kids Count data book, 68 percent of fourth graders nationwide do not read proficiently. In Arizona, 74 percent of fourth graders do not read proficiently. A kid not reading proficiently by fourth grade is in trouble. Students read to learn in fourth grade after having learned to read in first and second grade.
The column goes on to cite the Manpower Group 2012 Talent Shortage Survey, naming skilled trades as the hardest jobs to fill. Yes, skilled trades — as in plumbers, electricians, welders etc. One can imagine how parents might reconsider the efficacy of a college education in light of where job openings actually are. More, but not all, of the rest of the top 10 most difficult-to-fill jobs require a college education: engineers, IT staff, sales representatives, accounting & finance staff, drivers, mechanics, nurses, machinists/machine operators and teachers.
As for the jobs for drivers, there are apparently 300,000 open trucker jobs in the U.S., according to a New York Times article from June. The article describes how businesses are having a tough time filling jobs with qualified applicants in other fields as well.
Schulz’s column mentions the lack of social skills and professionalism amongst younger workers entering the work force and the need for these “soft” skills. The author blames the education system, the collapse of “intact families” and the “erosion of human and social capital in many communities.”
Whatever the exact reason, parents of kids yet to hit the job market might want to let their kids know how the economy has changed shape and what employers in the real world are seeking.