A new study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and University of
Phoenix study explores disconnect between three million available
jobs and high unemployment. 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.
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
"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."
Heading back to school
Among the key findings of the Life in the 21st Century Workforce
- Eight-in-10 employers (80 percent) believe that education is
critical to ensuring that workers have the competencies necessary
to advance, and 72 percent of the labor pool agree.
- U.S. workers believe that going back to school will have a
direct impact on their career: the most common reasons for going
back to school are to advance their career (89 percent), increase
their salary (89 percent) or gain training for a specific job (88
- Employers believe that increasing the number of workers who
complete post-secondary education programs and receive a degree or
credential will contribute to the success of their company.
Landing a job versus getting promoted
In today's workplace, the labor force considers past work
experience (50 percent) to be the most important factor when
companies are making hiring decisions, outdistancing people
management and communication skills (27 percent).
However, when it comes to being promoted, workers are more likely
to consider people management and communication skills (46 percent)
as more important than past work experience (38 percent). And
employees (77 percent) see continuing education as vitally
important for success in their careers.
Walking the talk
Forty-six percent of workforce respondents say their company pays
all (17 percent) or some portion (29 percent) of tuition.
Meanwhile, 50 percent of employers say they have a tuition
assistance program. In addition, 57 percent of employers
interviewed offer flexible schedules to accommodate post-secondary
education and training.
Choosing a program for success
Business leaders place a premium on post-secondary education
programs preparing individuals for success in the workplace (56
percent), providing individuals with core academic knowledge and
intellectual skills (51 percent) and providing individuals with the
workforce skills and knowledge for success in a specific career (50
Conversely, employees place more weight on program elements that
affect their day-to-day life; a flexible schedule is the most
important attribute for workers (21 percent), while 16 percent say
both cost of tuition and practical learning experiences are the
The uphill battle
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that 14 million
Americans remain unemployed. It is against this backdrop that just
19 percent of Americans believe things in the U.S. are headed in
the right direction, while 73 percent say things are going in the
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
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.