NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gen X and Gen Y Lack Communication Skills Employers Are Looking For

November 27, 2013

Despite stubbornly high unemployment, many employers complain that they can't find qualified candidates for the jobs they do have, says CNBC.

  • Often, it turns out, the mismatch results from applicants' inadequate communication skills.
  • In survey after survey, employers are complaining about job candidates' inability to speak and write clearly.
  • On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were a net 204,000 new jobs created in October, though the unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent.

Experts differ on why job candidates can't communicate effectively. Bram Lowsky, an executive vice president of Right Management, the workforce management arm of Manpower, blames technology. "With Gen X and Gen Y, because everything is shorthand and text, the ability to communicate effectively is challenged," he said. "You see it in the business world, whether with existing employees or job candidates looking for work."

  • Others say colleges aren't doing a good job.
  • In a survey of 318 employers published earlier this year by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and conducted by Hart Research Associates, 80 percent said colleges should focus more on written and oral communication.

William Ellet, an adjunct professor teaching writing at Brandeis International Business School, says the problem starts even earlier. He points out that when the Department of Education in 2012 published what it called "The Nation's Report Card: Writing 2011" -- just 24 percent of 8th and 12th graders were proficient in writing. From colleges on down, he said, "Nobody takes responsibility for writing instruction."

The good news for job seekers is that some companies are providing help with writing. Lowsky estimates that Right Management is seeing an increase of 20 to 25 percent in the number of clients investing in career development for employees, including improving their communication skills.

Source: Kelley Holland, "Why Johnny Can't Write, and Why Employers Are Mad," CNBC, November 11, 2013.


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