The original text
What Do Employers Want? The Answer Is Surprising
By Joe Sackett
Special Project Coordinator, Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (TVI), New
(Audience: Instructors at Albuquerque TVI Community College)
What are the three most important factors in hiring new employees? If you said "academic performance, reputation of the applicant's schools and teacher recommendations," you'd be …wrong. According to a recently completed survey conducted by the US Census Bureau, these were the least important factors. Business survey respondents ranked applicants' attitude, communication skills and previous work experience as their most important criteria.
Employers want ethical, self-directed, responsible people who manifest curiosity and the desire to continue learning and who can communicate well with customers and colleagues.
How are we preparing our students to be hired?
The primary mission of this Institute, according to our current catalogue, is occupational education. Whether enrolled in liberal arts, vocational or developmental departments, virtually all students at TVI expect and desire well-paid and fulfilling employment. Do our curricula and course offerings adequately reflect the drastically changing requirements for getting a job? What obligation do we have to our students to know what we're talking about in this area? How can we make sure we really do know?
As a long-time teacher of "basic skills," I figured I had a pretty clear understanding of what that phrase meant. Visits to employers, however, have shown me the error of my ways. Basic skills in today's workplace are not necessarily confined to arithmetic, grammar and recreational reading. Employers need people who can demonstrate an ability to communicate with others in teams to solve problems. Employers want listeners, time managers, conflict resolvers. Employers require people who can analyze data, read graphs, utilize basic statistics. Are we teaching these skills? Could our students (or our graduates, for that matter) even get a job interview when the application form requires them to write several "essays" about their experience working with teams, providing leadership, taking initiative? Do they have the communicative skill to respond appropriately to penetrating personal questions during a telephone interview? Can they give accurate answers to questions posed by a panel of peers about how they would respond to hypothetical work situations? When employers say they want people who can think, solve problems and work with others, this is what they mean -- and they expect job applicants to demonstrate these skills before they can get in the door.
In his installation address, President Sanchez made it clear that his priority is the link between education and work. He admonished us all to keep abreast of new developments and trends. Well, let's do it.
Go out and see for yourself what it takes to get a job these days. You'll be amazed. Citation: Joe Sackett, "What Do Employers Want? The Answer Is Surprising", Readings
for the Workplace, TVI Special Printing, Simon & Schuster Custom Printing,
Needham Heights, MA, 1997.