Employers Demand but Dont Get Key Skills

Lucas B. Kavlie, EdD, Amy Fulton, and I assembled some research on what employers expect from graduates vs. what they’re getting. Yet, what students want is to succeed at work, so why aren’t they learning it? Here are the results:

Employer -demanded skills and their rating of the gaps in recent graduates

(NACE, 2016; PayScale, 2016)

Rank Top 5 Skills Wanted % Employers
% Reported Skill-deficit Alignment of Labels
1 Ability to work in a team 78% 36%
2 Problem-solving 77% 60% Aligned to problem solving & critical thinking
3 Written communication 75% 44%
4 Strong-work ethic 72% 44% Aligned to ownership
5 Verbal communication 71% 39% Aligned to public speaking

This is one reason I’m a fan of competency based education. Every competency can be evaluated. These are fundamental and would help students greatly if they were a part of every general education program.

And yes, work ethic is learnable and measurable.


David Leasure

An innovator in online higher education, David Leasure has led online university programs, problem-based approaches to online learning, and competency-based education. He has served as provost at Western Governors University, Colorado Technical University and Jones International University. Leasure earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in computer science and was associate professor of computer science at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, where he turned his interests from artificial intelligence to teaching and learning with technology. Leasure led the creation of CTU Online, served as CTU’s doctoral chancellor, and president of Jones International University. His core belief is that all students can learn and his passion is helping them and their institutions succeed.