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 3 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 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!

Lone W.
Lone W3 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 G3 years ago

thanks for good article

Winn Adams
Winn A3 years ago


Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson3 years ago


Phil Smith
Phil Smith3 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..

cathie S.
cathie S3 years ago

Thank you

Deborah W.
Deborah W3 years ago

Starts at the beginning of life, through the investment in stewardship of these precius miracles who come empty and ready for filling. Children having children doesn't cut it. Education and parenting skills do.

Schools have limited building blocks to share ... and only if teachers are qualified, devoted and adequately financed. They do not take the place of parents. Stated curriculum should also be reviewed for appropriateness, and waivers offered when the need presents.

Nowhere has the mention of Government and union "intervention" and "guidance", tenure earned or not but received, waiver choices, come into the conversation.

Until children, the future generation we will upon getting older turn the world over to, once again become a precious commodity worth investing in BY ALL (we each have special gifts we can share one to another) things will only get worse. Sad ...