Are Schools Teaching Kids the Right Skills?

My brother is about to enter his last year of college, and I’m terrified for him. Today’s job market is a wild and unpredictable place (a lesson I learned the hard way). Gone are the 40-year jobs with good pensions that gave our parents and grandparents so much security. Permanent jobs with benefits are hard to come by, and even if you’re lucky enough to land one, there’s a good chance you won’t stay longer than a few years.

What triggered this change? Well, a crappy economy brought on by predatory lenders, greedy corporations and devil-may-care Wall Street jockeys, for starters. An equally crappy education system didn’t help.

See, a strong, well-prepared workforce starts long before little Johnny or Jan submits that college application. The foundation for success (or failure) is laid in grade school. These early years are when tomorrow’s workers begin preparations for their eventual career, not only learning “reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic,” but also the basics of how to learn–something that is vital for life in a world powered by rapidly changing technology.

Unfortunately, schools at every level are failing kids on both accounts.

Half of the employers surveyed in a 2013 study by The Chronicle and American Public Media’s Marketplace “said they had trouble finding recent graduates qualified to fill positions at their company or organization. Nearly a third gave colleges just fair to poor marks for producing successful employees. And they dinged bachelor’s-degree holders for lacking basic workplace proficiencies, like adaptability, communication skills, and the ability to solve complex problems.”

“Woefully unprepared” is how the owner of one Northern Virginia technology consulting company put it.

In a 2014 survey by Gallup just 14 percent of Americans—and only 11 percent of business leaders—strongly agreed that graduates have the necessary skills and competencies to succeed in the workplace.

So, not only are we doing a bad job of teaching children the basics, we’re also failing to provide the other skills they need to land the jobs of the future. And what are those skills, you ask? Scroll through the infographic below for a list of the top 10 (hint: they’re not things that can be assessed with a standardized test).

Tell us: What are you doing to make sure your child gains these skills?

Important Work Skills for 2020


Francesca A-S
Past Member 1 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill1 years ago

School administrations need to be able to fire the teachers who are not doing their jobs well. Our children are the ones suffering!

Nyack Clancy
Nyack Clancy1 years ago

Thank you

Lone W.
Lone W.1 years ago

The author forgets that the current USA administration also has been acting as the predatory lenders, greedy corporations and devil-may-care Wall Street jockeys she mentins.

Regarding education, the USA, and many other countries, have seen the quality of education fall over teh past several decades. Sadly, the students who need access to a good education are the ones that seldom have it. But it is not a question of increasing funding, but in many cases it is a case of holding administrators and teachers accountable. Also, parents should be responsibly involved.

Alexandra G.
Alexandra G.1 years ago

thanks for good article

Winn Adams
Winnie Adams1 years ago


Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson1 years ago


Nyack Clancy
Nyack Clancy1 years ago

Thank you

Artatchapelview Artwork


Phil Smith
Phil Smith1 years ago

When kids are graduating high school without being able to read , write cursive , and/or fill out a simple job application --- Yeah --- I would say something is in need of repair..