Skills May Be More Important Than Credentials

This month is the beginning of graduation season for both high school and college students. According to a recent story appearing in the Philadelphia Public School website, The Notebook, organizations are more interested in whether would-be applicants have both literacy and necessary math skills to do the jobs that they are applying for. Even with a diploma, without those skills, entry-level applicants won’t be able to get the highest wages – even in today’s marketplace that often struggles to find top talent.

Director of Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy, Paul Harrington said in an interview with The Notebook that rather than ticking off a list of markers for graduates, it is more important to focus on skills acquisition. Students are completing high school, but they aren’t necessarily building their skillsets.

“There are higher fractions of people getting diplomas, but the skills aren’t there,” Harrington said.

While the current educational system churns out students with diplomas, the skills, according to Harrington, the skills just aren’t in place. It’s the skills, Harrington insists, that employers are placing a higher value upon.

The Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) conducted a study that found one out of every five college graduates with bachelor’s degrees has a lower proficiency in literacy and numeracy than what the current job market is looking for. Out of 38 nations participating in the study, skill levels for U.S. workers is markedly below that of workers from other developed countries.