How Schools Are Failing Workers--and Ways They Can Fix It.

Author:Karami, Sheena
Position:EDUCATION
 
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"... The skills gap--which involves both 'hard skills' and 'soft skills'--is a call to action for all of us."

A LIST of recommendations to help schools better train students for the demands of the modern workforce has been released by Express Employment Professionals, as employers lament the fact that schools are not preparing job seekers with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. Notably, these are not just technical skills. There also is a persistent "soft skills" gap.

While many of the most-glaring issues arise in high school, the post-secondary education system is falling short, too. In a survey of college-educated job seekers and business decisionmakers, 57% indicate that they are not working in a profession that "aligns" with their education.

Based on input from Express franchise owners, local workforce specialists, and surveys, Express has developed 10 recommendations for educators:

Focus on oral and written communication "soft skills." One of the most-common methods of communication in today's hiring process is email, and Jan Riggins, general manager of two Ft. Worth, Texas, Express franchise locations, says she constantly is shocked at applicants' inability to communicate effectively in writing. "This mode of communication is vital to so many parts of the workforce, yet I see a lack of email etiquette and basic grammar and spelling skills leading to many misunderstandings and misinterpretations."

Mike Brady, franchise owner in Jacksonville, Fla, says many common sense soft skills, such as making eye contact, refraining from looking at a cell phone, and the ability to communicate and compose thoughtful answers to questions, are lacking and can cost a candidate a job offer.

Provide training for resume writing, interview etiquette, and other workforce skills. Students also could benefit greatly from schools that offer a class on the basics of how to find a job, notes Daniel Morgan, franchise owner in Birmingham, Ala. "Of the last eight interviews I have done, only one person has followed up with an email or phone call to thank me or express interest in the job. I know they are interested because they tell us a friend in the office referred them, but they have never been taught basic interview skills."

Once again, these candidates' lack of soft skills often means they are passed over for a position they are qualified for on paper. However, they still have work to do on their presentation in the hiring process.

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