U.S. unemployment hovers at nine percent and while 14 million Americans remain unemployed, the U.S. Department of Labor reported there are currently three million available jobs. Against this backdrop, today 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 Life in the 21st Century Workforce: A National Perspective 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 advisor 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 jobseekers seeking to stand out in the increasingly competitive job market."
In today’s workplace, the labor force considers past work experience (50%) to be the most important factor when companies are making hiring decisions, outdistancing people management and communication skills (27%). However, when it comes to being promoted, workers are far more likely to consider people management and communication skills (46%) as more important than past work experience (38%).
"Our nation is facing a critical disconnect between the skills our workforce brings to the job, and what businesses need," said Greg Cappelli, co-CEO of Apollo Group, parent company of University of Phoenix. "Despite the country’s current unemployment levels, there are literally millions of jobs available for people with the right skills and the right education. We must look to the future and focus on providing students with a relevant education – one that prepares them with the expertise they need for successful careers in the workforce of tomorrow."
Among the key findings of the Life in the 21st Century Workforce study:
Heading Back to School
Landing a Job vs. Getting promoted
Walking the Talk
Choosing a Program for Success
The Uphill Battle
ABOUT THE SURVEYS
The workforce survey findings presented here are part of a multi-audience, multi-location research project sponsored by the University of Phoenix. Telephone interviews were conducted among a random national sampling of 500 workforce members 18-54 years of age between April 6 and 18, 2011. The sampling error for the sample is +/- 4.4 percentage points. Survey interviewing and analysis were completed by APCO Insight, an international opinion research and consulting firm.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce / Civic Enterprises study of employers was conducted September 7-16, 2010 among a random national sample of 450 business leaders at companies with 50 or more employees. Respondents included C-suite level executives, senior vice presidents, officers, and vice presidents at companies across sectors. The online survey was designed and conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates. The report was commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
ABOUT UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX
University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help students balance education and life in a rapidly changing world. Through flexible schedules, challenging courses and interactive learning, students achieve personal and career aspirations without putting their lives on hold. As the flagship university of Apollo Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit phoenix.edu.