Attitudes Towards Education

            Comparing skills sets that are rated as most important in Connecticut and Europe in both locations, employers view sector specific skills, including technical, mechanical, and manufacturing related skills, (viewed by 44.5 percent of European employers and thirty-five percent of Connecticut employers) as being the most important skills in employees. Interestingly the second most important skill set in Europe (basic skills such as being good with numbers, good reading and writing skills, computer skills), only five percent of Connecticut employers believed employees lacked these skills. European opinion however matched up to Connecticut with the view of communications skills and team working skills (called “soft” skills in Connecticut) as being within the top three skills sets. An interesting skill set missing from Connecticut are foreign language skills. Over thirty percent of European respondents believed this was an important skill for employees to have. Connecticut lacking this skill sets suggests that being fluent in a language other than English would not be an asset to their company. European companies seem to interact much more with people from other countries, perhaps because of the close proximity to each other. Employees in Connecticut who do interact with companies from other countries are most likely to be higher ups interacting in English or with the use of a translator.

            There appears to be a disparity in the amount of education expected in Connecticut and in Europe. Connecticut respondents said “over half…(fifty-five percent) require at least a high school degree for the majority of new hires; nearly a fifth (seventeen percent) require graduation from a trade or technical school; and eighteen percent require at least a bachelor’s degree”(CBIA, 2008). In Europe, over half (55.2 percent) said a person with a bachelor’s degree “best fit the skill requirements for the positions in [their] company,” 34.6 percent think a master’s degree is a best fit, and 3 percent said a doctorate was the best fit (The Gallup Organization, 2010). Comparing this to the Connecticut statistics is interesting. Does this mean for over half of Connecticut employers, having a college degree is not needed? It is possible these job are not necessarily high paying or desirable over a long period of time. It is also raises the question about the quality of education of high schools in Europe. Why is a bachelor’s degree the lowest degree that would be a best fit at workplaces? Are their standards especially high, or is a bachelor’s degree in Europe equal to a high school degree in Connecticut? Are the skills needed much greater?

            Looking at the fact that basic reading, writing and math skills in Europe were the skill set considered the second most important, which it was the least important skill set in Connecticut, it seems this is not the case. However, one might argue acquiring multiple language skills takes more time and therefore that might contribute to more years of education. But in Europe there is the generalization that multi-language acquisition begins at a younger age than in the United States. Supposition could continue, but this is something that cannot be concluded based on a simple analysis of a few pieces of data. It is however, something interesting to ponder and that should be looked into more deeply. 

References:

Connecticut Business and Industries Association. (2008). Availability of skilled workers in Connecticut. Retrieved from http://www.cbia.com/newsroom/surveys/documents/SkilledWorkers_08_000.pdf

The Gallup Organization. (November 2010). Employers’ perception of graduate employability. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_304_en.pdf

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