Virginia High School Students Missing Needed Work Skills
UVA Researchers have discovered that Virginia employers want basic work skills most high school students are not getting. Charles Fishburne talks with Ascher Currier, Co-author of a study done by the Weldon-Cooper Center for Pulic Service.
Weldon-Cooper asked 500 employers across the state what qualities they wanted most in prospective employees.
Currier: Employers in Virginia are looking for technical and academic skills, just as they always have; however, in addition to those things, they're looking for a number of very important basic skills we've called workplace readiness skills. These are the skills that make a person able to get along, accomplish things, succeed in the workplace.
Ascher Currier says in the past, many of us learned those kinds of skills with paper routes or summer jobs.
Currier: You know, we don't have Mayberry anymore. We don't have those little neighborhood communities where kids had experience in and out of all sorts of different workplaces or went to work with a parent and so on. They just don't see that anymore.
Those jobs have almost disappeared.
Currier: There's a combination of things. It's a recession, but it's also just changes in the work environment, changes in safety regulations, changes in insurance regulations, changes in the structure of work, the kinds of skills that are demanded at work. We just don't think any time in the near future job opportunities for young people are gonna start to increase. There'll be some return after the recession, but it's not gonna go back.
So, what kinds of things were we learning in the real workplace that may be escaping today’s young people?
Currier: People having a positive work ethic, that is, coming to work prepared to actually do some work, you know, coming on time, ready to engage with what's happening in the workplace. They've talked about the importance of integrity, people being honest and reliable at work, about teamwork, people getting along with other people and really work together in a group to get things done.
The survey and the recommendations are now in the hands of Career and Technical Education specialists at VDOE, and in fact, are appearing just this year in Career and Technical Education courses, but Currier says, that’s not enough.
Currier: You know, some people might say, 'well, my child is going on to college or university; they don't need this,' but college and university is like a job; if you don't approach it with these kinds of skills and attitude, you're not gonna be good at college, either. Regardless of whether a student is going to work or going to work and school or going to community college or anywhere, they need to have a healthy dose of this. So we hope that attention will be paid to these skills and to this issue of bringing employers and students together so students get a lot of work exposure as well as the work experience they're no longer getting.
Ascher Currier is co-author of a study done by UVA’s Weldon-Cooper Institute that surveyed 500 Virginia employers about qualities they were looking for, a part of a child’s basic education she says is currently lacking in public schools.
Currier: Every child before they graduate needs to have a healthy dose of this.
Charles Fishburne, WCVE News