New Study Sheds Light on Philadelphia's Employment Landscape

Jun 07, 2011, 09:57 ET from University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix Study Compares Employers' and Workforce's Most Valued Skills, Education Attributes

PHILADELPHIA, June 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the workforce is transformed by technology and global competition, the results of a new study by the University of Phoenix provide insight into the academic criteria for success in the 21st century workplace, according to Philadelphia business owners and employees.

The Life in the 21st Century Workforce study found that local employers place a premium on employees with strong interpersonal communication and teamwork abilities, whereas those currently employed or seeking employment undervalue the importance of these skills. Employees believe the ability and willingness to learn new skills is the most important factor in hiring decisions.

Philadelphia workforce and business leaders agree that a college education and continuing education is critical to success in the workplace, with a strong majority of employers saying their company pays for a portion or all of employees' education. As the skills needed in the world's marketplace increasingly require higher education and a more advanced and practical skill set, University of Phoenix will continue to offer innovative pathways for Americans to meet their professional and personal goals through high quality education.

"University of Phoenix has been driving innovation in higher education for more than 30 years, providing students with a practical, flexible and relevant learning experience," said Dr. Bill Pepicello, president of University of Phoenix. "This research highlights the importance of continuing education to be successful in the 21st century workforce. It also gives the University another tool to tailor our degree program to ensure students are developing real-world skills in our classes."

Among the key findings of the Life in the 21st Century Workforce study:

Philadelphia employers and workers are remarkably optimistic about the future of the city.

  • Plurality of the workforce (48 percent) see the city as moving in the right direction, while 57 percent of employers agree

Employers and workforce place importance on different skill sets in hiring new workers.

  • Employers say the most important skills in hiring employees is interpersonal communication (32 percent) and critical thinking and problem solving (22 percent).
  • Workforce agree with employers that critical thinking is important (19 percent), but say that the ability and willingness to learn new skills is the most important attribute (21 percent) – only 12 percent of employers agreed.

People management and communication skills are as important as past work experience in employer's decisions to hire workers, and most important in promotions.

  • Employers are split on whether people management and communications skills (39 percent) or past work experience (39 percent) is the most important factor when making hiring decisions, but clearly value people management when promotions are considered (49 percent rate this as the most important skills for a promotion).
  • Workforce feel that past work experience (42 percent) is the most important factor; they recognize that experience will get them in the door but people skills will move their career forward (47 percent say this is the most important promotion factor).

Education is critical to ensuring workers have the skills necessary to advance.

  • More than three-quarters of both Philadelphia employers and workers overwhelmingly agree that a college education and continuing education are critical to success in the workplace.
  • Employers (55 percent) say that they are more likely to promote an employee with a college degree.
  • In the next two years, 63 percent of the workforce say they plan to take a class to enhance their professional skills and 36 percent plan to go to school to earn an advanced degree.

Employers and workforce agree that post-secondary degree is valuable, but evaluate programs differently.

  • Employers say the most important attribute is an emphasis on practical learning experiences that emphasize real life problems (27 percent) and on flexible schedules such as classes in the evenings, weekends or online (21 percent).
  • Workforce agree with employers that practical learning experiences that emphasize real life problems are very important (13 percent), but say that flexible schedules (21 percent)and cost or tuition (15 percent)are the most important -- only 11 percent of employers rated cost as the most important element to consider.


The findings presented here are part of a multi-audience research project sponsored by the University of Phoenix. Telephone interviews were conducted among a random sampling of 100 Philadelphia area business executives, 500 Philadelphia workforce members 18-54 years of age, and 500 national workforce members from April 12-30, 2011. The sampling error for the business executives sample is +/- 9.8 percentages points at the 95 percent confidence interval and for the workforce samples is +/- 4.4 percentage points. Survey interviewing and analysis were completed by APCO Insight, an international opinion research and consulting firm.

To view the full report, visit


University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help students balance education and life in a rapidly changing world. Through flexible schedules, challenging courses and interactive learning, students achieve personal and career aspirations without putting their lives on hold. University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit

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