Report | April 18, 2017

Help Wanted: Employers Seek Workers Who Can Play Well with Others

Throughout Illinois and the entire country, the character skills needed for workforce success are shaped in early childhood

Across Illinois and nationwide, employers increasingly consider business success to hinge on the “character skills” of employees. From punctuality and problem-solving to perseverance in overcoming challenges, these social-emotional abilities are critical to a productive and high-quality workforce—but often lacking in their hires, executives observe. (Read our latest report.)

In a recent Zogby Analytics survey of 300 business decision-makers nationwide, three out 
of five respondents say it’s more difficult to land job candidates with adequate “soft skills” than those with technical expertise. They add that these qualities are tougher to teach, on the job, than more technical skills—and they realize their bottom line suffers for it. So, it’s no surprise that 89 percent of executives indicate support for swimming upstream of these difficulties through public investments in early childhood programs as a key way of helping kids begin to acquire social-emotional skills.

Many factors affect the development of solid character skills and a high-quality workforce, and early childhood investments rank among the most important.

Desiree Bennyhoff, President & CEO, Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce and Chairman, Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

This new ReadyNation report examines the challenges in Illinois, home to 62,000 young children who’ve faced two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences, the 11th-highest total in the country. The report delves into research demonstrating the value of efforts at countering such difficulties and strengthening the healthy development of young children—and by extension, our workforce.

Also included in the report are stories from business leaders who encounter the character-skills deficit—from Chicago to Springfield, and Rockford to the Metro East St. Louis area. All agree: Early education is the best approach to laying a foundation for strong character skills.

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