Are Young People Ready to Work?

Today’s work environment is complex.  At a recent professional development training, Gregg Christensen Entrepreneurship Education Specialist at the Nebraska Department of Education explained how important it is for young people to develop skills that will help them get and keep a job within this environment.

Christensen told of a 2013 Rice University study where researchers found that 74% of high school youth have never worked more than one hour per week.  That may be due to a variety of reasons including lack of employment opportunities, busy life of students, regulations that restrict employment for youth etc.  Of the young people interviewed by Rice University researchers, 30% did not graduate from high school and 70% did not finish college.  Young adults seeking jobs have an average of $25,000 in consumer debt due to education costs and lifestyle choices.

From the “Are They Really Ready to Work?” research study, five important skills employers expect to see in new hires are: 1) Professionalism/Work Ethic; 2) Teamwork/Collaboration; 3) Oral Communications; 4) Ethics/Social Responsibility and 5) Critical Thinking/Problem Solving.

            Due to escalating health care costs, 76% of employers say that “making appropriate choices concerning health and wellness” is the number one emerging skill they want employees to know about.   In some cases, corporations are shifting responsibility for managing employer-provided health care benefits from the employer to the employee.

            Other top skills employers want to see employees to be able to handle are 1) exercising personal financial responsibility such as balancing a checkbook and planning for retirement; 2) using entrepreneurial skills to enhance workplace productivity and career options; 3) understanding economic issues and the role of business in the U.S. and global economy; 4) being an informed citizen and 5) use non-English languages as a tool to understand other nations, markets and cultures.

            Christensen believes that including formal entrepreneurship training during school is important for all young people.  He quotes the former Springfield Technical Community College President Scibelli who said that “not everyone can be an entrepreneur, but everyone can learn valuable lessons from formal entrepreneurship education that will serve them well in most any field of endeavor.”  Entrepreneurship training includes many aspects of what is written above – to be an effective employee and to be able to handle personal lifestyle and financial decisions that are shifting from the employer to the individual.

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