Workforce Readiness: Competencies and Assessment

By Harold F. O'Neil Jr. | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Validation of SCANS Competencies by a National Job Analysis Study

Beverly E. Nash Robert C. Korte American College Testing


CHANGING WORKPLACE DEMANDS: THE SKILIS GAP

Just as the industrial revolution dramatically changed the nature of work in the 19th century, technological growth and global competition are transforming organizations and the role of workers today ( Offermann & Gowing, 1990). The advent of mass production in the late 19th century eventually created large, centralized organizations that produced increasing numbers of goods for the domestic market. Jobs were defined narrowly, and worker tasks became routine. Work skills were primarily learned on the job, with only the basic reading, writing, and math skills being taught in the schools (National Center on Education and the Economy [NCEE], 1990a).

The workplace of the early to middle 1900s was based on the Frederick Taylor approach to management, which emphasized piece-meal work in a highly controlled environment ( Taylor, 1911). Performance was measured in terms of observable outcomes such as rate, time, and errors ( Gerhart & Milkovich, 1992). The Taylor model served to standardize work and observable performance, and its effects on workers were significant, yet restrictive. Employees received little recognition and few rewards, such as bonuses or flexible work schedules, for their efforts and service to organizations. The organizational structure was hierarchical, therefore workers assumed little responsibility for their assignments and had virtually no autonomy in their jobs ( Fisher, 1994). Higher order thinking skills, such as problem solving,

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