, pub-6663105814926378, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Job Skills Have Declined Firms Say 4289

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Job Skills Have Declined Firms Say

Job Skills Have Declined Firms Say

Respondents to the August Business  Ballot poll conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce echoed what many education critics and business people have been saying for some time: Today's education system is not preparing students well for the workplace. Asked how job applicants today compare with those of five years ago in skills such as reading, self-discipline, comprehension, and communication, 52 percent of respondents said today's applicants compare less favorably. Only 13 percent said current job seekers are better prepared.

The other 35 percent said there is no difference between today's applicants and those of five years ago. Fifty-four percent of the respondents said they have to provide more training in basic skills to entry-level employees today than they did five years ago, while 42 percent said they have to provide the same amount of training.

Four percent said they provide less training. In addition, 62 percent said today's entry-level workers have either decreased their companies' productivity and quality and/or have caused their firms to spend more for training. Nearly 27 percent said new workers have had no effect—either positively or negatively—on productivity and quality; 11 percent said today's entry-level employees have improved their companies' productivity and quality.

In the Chamber's June Business Ballot poll on public-policy questions, the majority of respondents said they would like the federal government to look more closely at the economic consequences of its environmental policies. For example, 75 percent said the government should consider the effect on the economy of adding plant and animal species to the endangered-species list.

The Endangered Species Act protects plants and animals on that list, usually by limiting land use. Thousands of forest-industry employees have been idled, for instance, because the protected northern spotted owl lives in prime timber areas of the Pacific Northwest.

The majority of respondents—57 percent—also said federal rules defining wetlands, which affect land use, should be less stringent for private property than for public lands. Thirtyfour percent said wetlands rules should be equally stringent for private and public property, and 9 percent were undecided.

Business people seem less certain, though, about U.S. actions to curb so-called global warming. Forty-two percent of respondents said they believe current scientific evidence justifies moves to eliminate gases that some scientists say cause the warming. Thirty-eight percent said action is not warranted, and 20 percent were undecided.

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