Published on 2013/11/15

Adult Skills Not Keeping Pace with Job Market

The American economy could be in dire straits as a result of the falling numbers of adults with basic skill levels.

Following the publication of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s (OECD) most recent Survey of Adult Skills, which shared troubling statistics about the workforce readiness of American adults, the OECD published another report outlining some implications of the findings and sharing policy suggestions that could help put the U.S. back on track.

The report, titled “Time for the U.S. to Reskill – What the Survey of Adult Skills Says,” points out that adults’ basic skill levels are very weak in comparison to other countries and have lacked significant improvement over the past few decades. With 36 million American adults struggling with literacy, the report makes it clear that there are major consequences to the country’s economic growth.

“Basic skills are important for effective citizenship and personal well-being as well as employment,” says the report. “In the U.S., even more than in most other countries, those with lower skills are more likely to feel that they lack influence on public decisions.”

However, in spite of the issues raised by the findings in the survey, the report outlines opportunities and recommendations to improve American adult basic skills. Among these recommendations is a call for clear policies that support more adult education programming and the creation of programs that can provide basic skills training and positive labor market outcomes.

“Given that two-thirds of the low-skilled are in work, employers have an important role to play,” says the report. “The key objective is to help employers to see employee acquisition of basic skills (and other forms of training) as being in the interests of employers.”

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