Don’t Let a Lack of Core Skills Limit Your Opportunities
By Kristen Leverone on October 24, 2013
Are you lacking the reading, math and technology skills needed to compete in today’s global workforce? A landmark OECD study of adult skills in 24 industrialized nations just reported that Americans ages 16 to 65 scored below international averages in basic skills such as reading, math and problem-solving in technology-rich environments. While this foreshadows an impending increase in the skills gap currently impacting many organizations, it also tells a more personal story. As U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan puts it, “Adults who have trouble reading, doing math, solving problems and using technology will find the doors of the 21st century workforce closed to them.”
As reported in USA Today, only nine percent of U.S. adults registered top performance in math and only one in eight performed at the highest proficiency in reading. In the technology category, Americans still ranked behind 14 other countries.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn. Here are a few free or cost-effective resources for boosting core skills:
- Read up. Challenge yourself with thought-provoking reading material. Start by setting a goal of reading two books a month on a topic you enjoy and then move into deeper subjects. Reading has the added benefit of improving vocabulary, deduction skills and spelling.
- Get it write. Eighty percent of U.S. businesses surveyed cited written communication as their employees’ biggest skill problem, while 98% of top executives reported that effective business writing is the skill most needed for professional success. Improve your business writing, grammar and punctuation skills through online courses and books.
- Math is where it’s at. Affordable or free classes in basic math are typically available through adult education programs at public schools or libraries. The internationally recognized online Khan Academy has revolutionized the teaching of math through free, easy-to-understand basic and advanced math videos.
- Computer literacy impacts every job. Each software program you master will increase your employability. Many computer retail stores provide low-cost in-home computer classes and free courses are generally available at public libraries or through adult education programs and your state Department of Employment Services.
It’s up to you. If you think a lack of core skills is holding you back, take advantage of all the terrific resources available and enhance your career opportunities.
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