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Executives Want Education Policy Interventions to Help U.S. Competitiveness

April 25, 2012

Only 11 percent of business executives believe the U.S. educational system prepares workers for today’s economy according to a recent survey by ConvergeUSPreparing America’s 21st Century Workforce: the Business Sector Weighs in on Educational Gaps & Common Core State Standards. In the report, ConvergeUS surveyed almost 300 business executives on their attitudes regarding the current state of the U.S. workforce. The most significant trend was the overall lack of confidence by business executives in the U.S. education system, approximately 33 percent of business executive believe that the U.S. does a poor job of preparing workers.

Educational policy changes were most often cited by respondents (66 percent) as necessary to make the U.S. more competitive in the world economy. Other areas important in need of policy changes to increase competitiveness include investments in research and development (56 percent of respondents) and corporate tax reform (54 percent). According to respondents, three objectives standout as the most important to a high school education:

  • 88 percent of executives said teaching students to think and solve problems is very important;
  • 80 percent said focusing on basics such as reading, writing and mathematics is very important; and,
  • 72 percent said providing skills so students can be productive workers is very important.

Respondents also were asked in what areas can recent college graduates improve upon to be more successful in the global workforce:

  • 61 percent said improving writing and communication skills would help a lot;
  • 59 percent said improving critical thinking and problem-solving skills would help a lot;
  • 44 percent said improving graduates creative thinking would help a lot; and,
  • 43 percent said improving math skills would help a lot.

The survey also assessed respondents’ awareness of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative to establish a national framework that will prepare students for college and the workforce. Only 18 percent were very familiar with it. In comparison, 46 percent of respondents were not familiar with them.

workforce, k-12, higher ed