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6 December 2013

What is the number one job skill requested by employers?

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.

On December 12th and 13th 2013, I attended the Workforce Development Consortium Strategy Forum at the Lone Star College Conference Center in Houston Texas. The forum brings together several community college and industry leaders from ten states that are part of the Community College Workforce Consortium (CCWC). The goal is to discuss workforce needs and how community colleges can train, educate and develop the future workforce.

This is my first meeting and it has been enlightening. Read this post and take a look at what was determined to be the number one skill requirement of new employees as determined by the CCWC participants.

Earlier today, the employers present (Boeing being one) were given a list of about twelve skills that were culled from a national survey of employers. The CCWC employers present, about 20 or so, where asked by the college representatives to identify from the larger list the top three skills required of new employees. The top three were:

  1. Communication
  2. Problem solving
  3. Leadership

The selection of these three was not an epiphany. I’ve seen these bubble up to the top in other surveys. The employers want community colleges to teach these skills. “Got it!” I thought to myself. We are working on these and have been for quite some time. The discussion continued. There was another skill industry needed community college to teach to their students and this skill, not listed on the original twelve, was even more important than the top three. That skill?

Show up to work and show up on time!

“Ouch!” I thought to myself. This is a “skill” that is hard to teach and one that students need to be successful in college as well. They really should have this skill before they come to us. Right? Where do they learn this? How do we modify this behavior? Those are great questions that I cannot answer. I’m a Technologist by trade, not a Psychologist. Have an idea? Let me know in the comments below and let’s discuss.