Key Observations About the Current State of America’s Workforce

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As of March, there were 166.73 million people in the U.S. civilian workforce. The landscape and outlook for the nation’s workers has undergone profound changes in recent years, due such contributing factors as the global pandemic, technological advances, and work/life priority shifts, especially among younger Americans who represent the future of our economy.

How are people adapting to new workplace realities and the skills they need to succeed in this occupational and financial new normal?

The Pew Research Center, a leading nonpartisan think tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends that shape the world, recently conducted an extensive study to help answer this pressing question. Here’s a summary of key study findings:

Skills, training and experience continue to be of paramount importance.

Employment has been growing faster in occupations that require more education, experience and job training. Social and analytical skills are also critical to career success. These include interpersonal, management and communication, as well as critical thinking and computer strengths. In recent years, the outlook has not been as encouraging in occupations that depend more on physical capabilities, such as manual labor and machinery operation.

There are mixed opinions on the value of higher education.

The jury is out on what level of education best prepares candidates for today’s workplace. Only 16 percent of respondents to the Pew Research study – including 13 percent of those with at least a four-year college degree – said a bachelor’s degree prepared students “very well” for well-paying jobs. By comparison, 12 percent said a two-year associate degree made students well prepared, while 26 percent said certification programs in professional, technical or vocational skills did the trick.

Most Americans feel that workforce skills preparation is up to individuals.

Is it up to individuals to make sure they have the right skills and education to succeed? Yes, according to 72 percent of Pew survey respondents. A somewhat smaller number – 60 percent – put that responsibility on public K-12 schools, while 52 percent said it should fall on colleges and universities and 49 percent said it was up to employers.

While job security overall is slumping, most people feel secure in their current positions.

Sixty-three percent of workers surveyed said the average working person in the U.S. has less job security than people did 20 or 30 years ago. Yet, most current workers are confident in their own roles: 88 percent said they are not likely to lose their jobs in the next year.

At Accurate Staffing Consultants, Inc., it’s part of our mission to keep employers and job seekers abreast of current trends and outlooks as they affect the labor market and the world of work. If you’re an employer, we can help you find and develop your industry-leading workforce with this and other key goals in mind. If you’re job hunting, we can help you make an informed decision on your next opportunity and the best career path for you. Contact us today to learn more.

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