Many Mass. companies can’t find skilled workers

BOSTON — A Massachusetts business group called for changes in the state’s education system in light of a report released Monday that shows more than two-thirds of the state’s employers report difficulty hiring appropriately skilled employees.

A survey, part of which is included in the 120-page report, found that 69 percent of the 334 employers who responded said they experienced difficulty hiring employees with the appropriate skills, while 84 percent said school systems require moderate to major changes. The survey was conducted by MassINC Polling Group.

“We have grown complacent about public education and have failed to recognize the risk that without significant changes our schools will increasingly fall behind those of our global competitors,” said Henry Dinger, chairman of the organization’s board. “It is imperative that Massachusetts lead not just the nation, but the world in the educational achievement of our children, or we will suffer economic stagnation and decline.”

Recent standardized test results suggest that the state’s rate of improvement has slowed and in some cases stalled.

International comparisons from the Program for International Student Assessment show that Massachusetts is behind the world’s top performing systems, as some nations, including Poland and Germany, are making faster progress and could surpass Massachusetts.

The MassINC Polling Group research found that 52 percent of businesses said the state’s schools need moderate changes, while 32 percent said they needed major changes. Only 20 percent gave the K-12 school system an A or B in preparing students for the job market.

“If we are going to achieve our goals in science, technology, engineering and math fields, business and education must work together to address the needs of employers, students and teachers,” board member J.D. Chesloff said.

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