Many believe that a "skills gap" threatens American productivity because students are not taught the generic skills of problem-solving, decision-making, communi-cation, and teamwork required in the new competitive business environment. The authors of this study test this belief by examining four diverse firms to see what skills and work attitudes are actually required. The study confirmed the importance of these skills, but also found that they vary considerably with work context in ways ignored by public policy. The authors noted that firms lack effective strategies for acquiring needed skills in their workforce, and that they do little to foster skill development among nonmanagerial workers. These instructive case studies will interest employers, industry groups, and policymakers, as well as educators involved with school-to-work transition issues.
MDS-773 / May 1996
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