October 08, 2009
American Worker Survey Telebriefing
Related Studies & Resources
Lifelong Learning: An Essential Factor in Workforce Success and Global Competitiveness
Findings from the American Worker and American Employer Surveys commissioned by Business Roundtable’s Springboard Project
What Is The Springboard Project?
- The Springboard Project is a new action-oriented commission that is developing policy recommendations for a 21st century approach to equipping Americans with the knowledge and skills needed for lifelong success in the U.S. workforce
- The Springboard Project will develop new ideas to help Americans get the information, retraining and ongoing education they need to compete and succeed in a post-recession economy
The Springboard Project is bringing together a select and diverse group of leaders to create actionable recommendations to:
- Encourage the building of relevant skills for today’s and tomorrow’s markets – Institutionalize lifelong learning as an individual and collective imperative
- Facilitate workers’ capacity to adapt to dislocation and evolving labor markets
- The Springboard Project will report its recommendations to the Administration, Congress, the business community, labor and individuals by the end of 2009
About the American Worker and American Employer Surveys
BSG Conducted Three Phases of Research for the Springboard Project
1. Focus Groups
- Two focus groups with “blue collar” workers in Columbus
- Two focus groups with “white collar” workers in Denver
- Online in-depth interviews with “blue collar” men nationwide
2. American Worker Survey
- 1000 nationwide telephone interviews
3. American Employer Survey
- 601 nationwide online interviews
Methodology for Quantitative Studies
The Benenson Strategy Group conducted two quantitative studies for The Springboard Project:
Survey of American Workersincluded a total of 1000 nationwide telephone interviews, and was conducted from July 7 –12, 2009
To qualify for the survey, respondents were screened to ensure they were:
- Adults ages 18 to 64
- Employed, looking for work, or homemakers planning to re-enter the workforce within next four years
- The margin of error is ±3.10 for the entire data set at the 95% confidence interval. It is higher among subgroups
- To qualify for the survey, respondents were screened to ensure they were:
Survey of American Employersincluded a total of 601 nationwide online interviews, and was conducted from July 15 –19, 2009
To qualify for the survey, respondents were screened to ensure they:
- Have hiring power within their organization
- Are a mid-level manager, executive, or senior executive
- The sample was also weighed to be representative of employers nationwide, in terms of organizational size, industry, and state
- The margin of error is ±4.00 for the entire data set at the 95% confidence interval. It is higher among subgroups
- To qualify for the survey, respondents were screened to ensure they:
Finding Qualified Workers Difficult for Most Employers; Skills Gap Affects Their Productivity
- There are clear signs pointing to the need to increase worker skills training and education.
- Employers expect that education requirements and their need for advanced technical skills to increase over the next several years.
- Three-fifths currently say that it is difficult to find qualified employees.
- Employers see a significant gap between their needs and their workers’ skills that is currently affecting their overall productivity.
- More than half say that this gap affects 16% or more of their employees; 20% say the gap affects more than 25% or more of their employees.
- The most serious gaps are believed to be “soft skills,” such as work ethic, accountability and self-motivation.
- Workers, too, show an appetite for education and skills enhancement, with 8-in-10 expressing an interest in skills training.
Employers Anticipate Demanding Higher Education Levels the Next Several YearsMajority of Employers Finding It Difficult to Find Qualified Applicants
Q9: In general, how difficult is it today to find qualified applicants to fill vacancies at your company?
Q7: In the past 4 years, what proportion of employees that you’ve hired have had:
Q8: In the next 4 years, what proportion of employees that you anticipate hiring will have:
Looking Ahead, Employers Expect to Demand Higher Levels of Skills, Education
*Only responses of 4% or more shown
Q13: What do you expect will be the most important change in your job requirements over the next four years? OPEN END
Half of Employers Facing Problematic Gap Between Their Needs and Employees’ Skills
Q14: How big a problem for your company is the gap between the skills and performance of your employees and your needs as a company? Please use a 7 point scale where 7 means that it is an extremely large problem and 1 means that it is not a problem at all.
Q16: Among what percentage of your staff would you say that the gap between your needs and their skills and performance is significant enough to affect your company’s overall productivity?
Largest Skill Deficits Are In “Soft Skills”
Benefits for Training: For Employers, Company Growth; for Workers, Confidence in Skills
Q46: Is your company or organization hiring new people and expanding the size of its workforce, not changing the size of its workforce, or letting people go and reducing the size of its workforce?
Q14: If you lost your job, how confident are you that you would be able to find a job for equal or better pay than your current job?
More Than 8 in 10 Employers Say Their Training is Adequate or Better
Cost is biggest obstacle for those who see training as inadequate
Q24: Thinking about the priority your company or organization places on the skills training and continuing
education of your employees, would you say that it is:
Q25: What’s the most important reason that your company does not place greater emphasis on skills
training and continuing education? (Asked of those who said barely or not adequate)
8 in 10 Workers Willing to Participate in Training/Education Outside of Workplace
Few who have participated before wouldn’t do it again
Q34: Now I’d like to ask you some questions about education & job skills training or enhancement. I’m going to read you a few statements, and please tell me which comes closest to your experience.
Workers Face High Hurdles to Participation, But Very Likely to Pursue Training if Shown a Way Around Them
Q58-64: Now I’m going to read you some reasons people could give for not pursuing education programs or job skills training. After each one, please tell me how much that statement applies to you. 7-pt scale
Q65-69: How likely would you be to pursue a job skills training program if it offered that feature? Very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely, or not at all likely?
Large Portion of Workers Need Reassurance That They are Pursuing the Right Skills
Q49. And, which of the following statements comes closest to your view on pursuing further education and skills training?
Employers See Themselves, Not Government, Responsible for Education and Training Programs
Workers Look to Educational Institutions First
Q37 (Employers)/ Q46 (Workers): Which of the following do you believe should be primarily responsible for creating education and job training programs?
Segmentation of the American Workforce
Interest in Training/ Education Not Determined By Income or Education Level
Segmentation of American Workforce Yields Clearly Differentiated Target Audiences
- This segmentation research developed six distinct & unique individual sub-segments that exist within the American workforce
These segments were formed using advanced statistical analysis, primarily based on workers’ attitudes toward their current skill levels, education, and future outlook on their employment.
- Other differences, such as demographics and life-stage/lifestyle characteristics were also used to profile and describe segments.
- The segments range in size from 11% to 27% of the workforce.
Ranking the Segments by Skill Interest
Segmentation Analysis Identified Six Segments of American Workers, Representing Different Skill Levels, Motivators, Attitudes, and Demographics
Key Findings: Base Segments
Based on attitudinal differences toward education, work and skills training, we have identified two core groups that will need little to no persuasion to convince them to partake in skills training.
- For them, skills enhancement has been and will be an ongoing part of their professional lives; with a little help overcoming barriers to participation, these groups will comprise the bulk of participants in skills enhancement programs.
Key Findings: Target Segments
We have also identified two other groups that are the target groups for skills enhancement programs; while interested in getting ahead, workers in these groups face significant obstacles to participating in such programs.
- With the right approach, these barriers can be overcome to allow these workers to enjoy the benefits of education and skills training.
Key Findings: Harder to Reach Workers
- Two other segments are not interested in skills enhancement programs, due in part to life-stage and lifestyle
Core & Target Groups Most Likely To Have Sought Training in Past, And Do Training In Future
Q35: Thinking about the past two years, how seriously have you sought out job skills training or education that would help you earn a degree or credential or get ahead in your career?
Q37: How likely are you to participate in job skills training or take courses to gain a higher degree or credential in the next two years? Are you:
What These Findings Mean For The Springboard Project’s Recommendations
As noted earlier, The Springboard Project is focusing on a 21stcentury approach to:
- Encouraging the building of relevant skills for today’s and tomorrow’s markets
- Institutionalizing lifelong learning as an individual and collective imperative
- Facilitating workers’ capacity to adapt to dislocation and evolving labor markets
- This research uncovers key employee and employer attitudes and behaviors that must be taken into account for our recommendations to be “actionable”
- We anticipate our final recommendations shortly