Future Friday Demographic alert: This may affect the quality of your next hire


American adults lag much of the rest of the world in reading skills.
American adults lag much of the rest of the world in reading skills.

We have heard in the news about the quality of education in the U.S. and how our school children do not measure up to many other children in the world. Now a recent study shows that there is a problem that may affect the quality of you next hire.
American reading skills
A recently released study shows that the reading skills of American adults is significantly lower than adults in other advanced countries. The study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that U.S. adults had reading levels that were below average, and lagged far behind those of Japan, several Scandinavian countries, Australia and Korea. Fortunately we were better than Ireland, Italy and Spain and other countries that had been hit particularly hard by the recession. Unfortunately these lower test scores extend to math and science as well.
The study shows that Americans in their thirties and forties who were tested in 2012 showed significant declines from a similar group tested in 1994. My conclusion is that we are seeing the effects of an educational system we have been complaining about for decades.
Implications for business
I think this news has significant implications for business. At a time when the jobs being created require more and more education we are dealing with workers who show a diminished comprehension. The result from this will show up in our businesses in a couple of ways.
First we may have to use greater automation to accomplish tasks. We are already moving in that direction with the increasing robotization of jobs. We already have learned that many jobs can be done faster, better and longer with robots. What we need humans for are those jobs that require human qualities such as emotion, discretion, insight and comprehension. Unfortunately our workforce maybe unprepared to do those kinds of jobs.
The second way this problem will show up in our businesses is in our attempt to counteract this lack of ability. Companies will have to increasingly take on the burden by greater amount of training. People are not necessarily less capable than they have been in the past they are just not educated appropriately to be able to handle many of the jobs that will be developed. Training programs that teach comprehension, critical thinking and problem-solving will become the responsibility of business.
Quality of that new hire
Businesses will have to come up with a different measure of “quality new hire.” We will have to be making some assessment of their trainability rather than assessment of their current skill base.
Are you prepared?
Inspiration provided by American adults have low (and declining) reading proficiency by Hector Tobar

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