Skills mismatch hinders the hiring of new graduates, survey finds

06/12/2013 6:52 AM

06/12/2013 6:52 AM

Fifty-three percent of U.S. employers plan to hire 2013 college graduates this year. The rest aren’t hiring largely because they don’t have jobs to offer.

But according to survey results released Tuesday by the Society for Human Resource Management, there is more than a sluggish job market to blame.

The survey revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the graduates’ perceived job readiness as well as a technical skills mismatch between the applicants and job requirements.

Forty-nine percent of human resource officials polled by the professional organization said this year’s college graduates lack basic English skills in grammar and spelling. Eighteen percent said the grads come up short in math and computation. Thirteen percent faulted the grads’ spoken English, and 10 percent cited a lack of reading comprehension.

The biggest complaint by hirers was that the graduates lacked “professionalism” or “work ethic,” a deficiency listed by half of those surveyed. Nearly half detected a lack of “business acumen.”

The generalized complaints — obtained from members of the human resource association — were reported along with more detailed revelations about why organizations were or weren’t hiring. Among those hiring, 20 percent said the graduates were “underqualified” for their job openings.

Job categories that employers described as “very difficult” to fill were engineers, computer technicians and programmers, scientists and skilled trades workers such as carpenters, machinists, mechanics, welders and plumbers.

Jobs listed as “very easy” to fill were customer service representatives, hourly laborers, administrative support workers and drivers.

Asked to describe the nature of the jobs being filled, 71 percent of the human resource professionals surveyed said most were full-time positions, 13 percent said most were temporary or contract jobs, 11 percent said most were part-time jobs, and 6 percent described their hiring as “roughly equal for each category.”

A majority of the hirers surveyed agreed that the economic climate had increased competition for jobs.

One positive perception of the new grads by half the employers surveyed: They are “more likely to be tech-savvy” compared with other job seekers.

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