More than Half of U.S. Employees Lack Confidence in Education System’s Ability to Prepare Youth for Workforce

As part of the City & Guilds Group's Skills Confidence 2016 report, we spoke to 2061 respondents in the US: 257 CEOs/Senior leaders, 515 middle managers, and 1,289.

The results offer insight into businesses’ lack of confidence in the education system’s ability to prepare the new workforce, as well as the disparity between business leaders and employees when it comes to the skills gap.

The key findings from the research were:

  • More than half (57 percent) of general U.S. employees lack confidence in the current education system’s ability to adequately preparing young people for the workforce;
  • 86 percent of all respondents believe there needs to be a bigger focus on career and technical education for young people, rather than four-year universities; 
  • 37 percent think that improving links between education and employment could have the biggest impact on productivity in the U.S.
  • Over 90 percent of CEOs/senior leaders believe that apprenticeships could help their organization to fill skills gaps; and
  • 35 percent of all respondents are concerned about the government’s education policies.

'The world of work is changing around us. These survey findings clearly show that the education system needs to keep up with these changes,' said Chris Jones, CEO of City & Guilds Group. 'Developing apprenticeship programs and highly targeted skills training can address this inconsistency, and ultimately increase productivity and growth.'

The survey also revealed a discrepancy amongst senior leadership and general employees when it comes to the skills gap and its implications for the future:

  • A quarter of CEOs/senior leaders recognize a gap in leadership skills (25 percent) and technical/job-specific skills (24 percent) in their organization, which makes them feel less confident about its future prospects
  • Just nine percent of general employees identify skill gaps in technical/ job-specific skills;
  • Thirty-eight (38) percent of general employees do not recognize any skills gaps in their organisation that make them feel less confident about its future prospects, compared to only 19 percent of middle managers;
  • People are nearly as concerned about immigration, as skills gaps (29 percent vs 26 percent) – and 31 percent believe that filling skills gaps could have the biggest impact on U.S. productivity; and
  • 55 percent recognize that immigrants could fill skills gaps, and 72 percent agree that some industries would struggle to exist without migrant labour.

Dermalogica®, the leading professional skin care company and partner to City & Guilds Group, recognises the need for skills-based learning and is committed through their Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship (FITE) program to support women in vocational training.

'I feel strongly as a woman who began her career as a professional skin therapist with vocational training, and who has parlayed that training to a global business that trains others, that we are underserving other women like me who have the desire and capacity to pursue career opportunities that are not even being shown skill set training as an option,' said Jane Wurwand, founder of Dermalogica®. 'The four year university degree serves many, but it doesn’t serve all, and we must meet the skill set gap through other methods and avenues of education.'