Stubborn Skills Gap In America’s Work Force

Career College Central summary:

  • A report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says the skill level of the American labor force is not merely slipping in comparison to that of its peers around the world, it has fallen dangerously behind.
  • The report is based on assessments of literacy, math skills and problem-solving using information technology that were performed on about 160,000 people age 16 to 65 in 22 advanced nations of the O.E.C.D., plus Russia and Cyprus. Five thousand Americans were assessed.
  • Though we possess average literacy skills, we are far below the top performers. Twenty-two percent of Japanese adults scored in the top two of six rungs on the literacy test. Fewer than 12 percent of Americans did. We are also about average in terms of problem-solving with computers. Paradoxically, our biggest deficits are in math, the most highly valued skill in the work force. Only Italians and Spaniards performed worse.
  • Some 34 percent of adult Americans scored in the top three rungs of the assessment for numeracy, 12.5 percentage points less than the average across all countries. Twenty-nine percent of Americans scored in the lowest two rungs — 10 percentage points more than the average. By percentage, more than twice as many Finns as Americans scored in the top two.
  • The report suggests that the sluggish employment growth since the nation emerged from recession probably has little to do with a skills deficit that has been a generation in the making. But it pretty forcefully supports the case that this deficit is an albatross around the economy’s neck.

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THE NEW YORK TIMES
 

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