New Emphasis Needed on Basic Employee Readiness Training

July 14, 2009 ( - Almost half of responding employers in a new survey said they have to provide readiness training for new hires, an effort the majority rate as "moderately" or "somewhat successful."

A news release said the survey found a widespread problem with new hires lacking crucial critical-thinking and creativity skills.

align=”left”>”Equally troubling is that, in several cases, the programs offered do not match company needs. While programs are in place to address training needs in leadership, information technology, and teamwork skills, there are substantialgaps in other applied skills-particularly those applied skills employers say they need the most- as well some of the basic skills like writing and mathematics,” the report asserts. “Applied skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, enable new entrants to use the basic knowledge acquired in school to perform successfully in the workplace. Yet, more than 40% of employers indicating a ‘high need’ for programs in critical thinking are not offering them.”

Also, employers’ inability to detail their spending on remedial programs makes it impossible to assess the true costs of an ill-prepared workforce to their own – or the economy’s – bottom line, the study found.

The study did pinpoint some success stories at companies, which the news release said include in their workforce readiness programs:

  • a culture committed to training and thorough job-readiness screening;
  • strategic partnerships with local colleges, and a focus on integrating training with job-specific skills and career development; and
  • constant re-evaluation to align training with company needs.

“It doesn’t make any difference if you’re operating a business in Mumbai, Beijing or New York – the number one challenge facing every organization is finding and growing skilled talent,” said Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) CEO and President Laurence O’Neil, in the news release. “HR professionals are helping bridge the gap, finding ways to give employees the skills they need to add value and to be more valued. This isn’t just an HR challenge, but a bottom-line global business problem.”

According to the report, employers are finding success in encouraging informal learning through an Intranet, e-mail, or other similar means. For example, 70.8% of respondents who provide some workforce readiness training say they allow employees to read useful information on an Intranet as an informal learning opportunity.

E-mail as a way to share knowledgeis the second most popular choice, with 63.1% citing this as an

informal learning opportunity.

More than half cite as informal learning or training opportunities used for workforce readiness:

  • voluntary informal mentoring, 60%
  • informal lunch-and-learn sessions, 58.5%
  • peer-to-peer coaching, 55.4%
  • open agenda time during regular meetings earmarked for sharing/learning, 53.8%

The report draws from a survey of 217 employers about their training of new l y hired graduates of high school and two- and four-year colleges. The survey, conducted during 2008, included employers in manufacturing; financial services; non-financial services; and education, government, and other non-profits.

The Ill-Prepared U.S. Workforce: Exploring the Challenges of Employer-Provided Workforce Readiness Trainingwas produced by Corporate Voices for Working Families, the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), The Conference Board, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The report includes five case studies of successful workforce readiness programs run by Bank of America and Year Up, CVS Caremark and TJX Companies, Harper Industries, Northrop Grumman, and YUM! Brands.

The report is available here .