The great divide: Worker and employer perspectives on current and future workforce demands
Purpose: Explore similarities and differences in the perceptions of workers
and employers regarding the skills needed in the workforce now and
the skills likely to be in demand in the next 10 years.
Sample: 511 workers, 419 employers
Researchers sent surveys to more than 30,000 employers and workers. To target specific industries and demographic groups, researchers set quotas and included screening questions with each survey. Findings are based on completed surveys from 930 survey respondents who met selection criteria.
Researchers found disparities in worker and employer perceptions with regard to
education, workplace performance, and the employment marketplace. Significant
disparities were apparent in the following areas:
• Perception of worker skills: Workers usually rated themselves highly in being
able to work independently, in teams, and in a multicultural environment. However,
employers reported that finding workers with these skills is harder than worker self-ratings
• Perceived demand for higher education: Researchers asked employers and workers
to rate the demand for people with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the next
10 years. Workers rated the demand for both bachelor’s and master’s degrees lower
than employers did. Workers also expressed greater uncertainty regarding the demand for
higher education in the workplace.
• Demand for foreign language proficiency measured against the number of workers
with this skill: The percentage of workers able to conduct business in Spanish, Arabic,
Chinese, or Russian is not enough to meet employers’ current demand. In addition,
the number of workers who intend to learn a foreign language in the next 10 years is
not enough to meet the rising demand that employers anticipate.
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