This report presents the findings from a novel survey instrument developed for a clientbased project completed in Spring 2016 with the nonprofit educational organization ACT, Inc. The pilot study collects and analyzes survey data from 482 workers in the U.S. labor force, who were asked to identify the likelihood that their current job would require specific information and communication technology skills (ICTs) on day one, with no on-the-job training. Drawing from the literature in education, communications theory, sociology and economics, the study seeks to test the strength and direction of the relationship between ICT skills and respondents’ specific jobs. The motivation for this research is to understand the importance of these data and its potential role in the development of curricular frameworks that teach twenty-first century skills. Within the education policy arena, the theory of action for such frameworks is that they are typically designed to improve college- and career-readiness via compulsory schooling during the K-12 years and into one’s career.
Using descriptive statistics, the findings from the pilot study indicate a mean composite score across all ICT sub-skills and Bureau of Labor Statistics/O*NET job zones as 2.88 out of 4. Using inferential measures of association, a statistically significant and positive correlation between the average ICT skill required in jobs and job zone category is found, with a particular emphasis on the higher ICT skills expected by employers of workers in certain “in-demand” jobs, typically found in job zones 3 and 4: accountants, computer scientists, educators, engineers and paralegals. Lower than average ICT skills are also found among workers in other in-demand jobs, such as nurses and members of the military.
These findings, and the survey model developed, have the potential to inspire further research (by ACT and other organizations) into the role that technology and information literacy plays in equipping the U.S. workforce for twenty-first century job requirements. While the deployment of this pilot survey on Amazon Mechanical Turk suggests limited generalizability to full U.S. population, it also invites a perspective on implications for public policy and management. Two of these recommendations are to provide more effective and earlier training and curricular programming related to ICT skills for K-12 students, and to consider ways to refine and test the O*NET job zones for possible improvement to the alignment between the ICT skill requirements listed and real-world expectations by employers.
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