American Workers Feel Overqualified, But Aren’t Ready to Stop Learning

New Randstad Work Watch Survey Explores Eagerness of Future Workforce

ATLANTA--()--A recent survey conducted by Randstad, a global provider of HR services and the second largest staffing organization in the world, found that 33 percent of American workers feel overqualified for their jobs. Only 3 percent feel under qualified and 65 percent feel they are appropriately qualified.

In its latest Work Watch survey, Randstad probed workers’ feelings around being prepared for their current jobs and gauged their interest in learning new skills required for future on-the-job challenges and responsibilities.

"It’s surprising that 1 out of every 3 American employees feels over-qualified in their job,” said Jim Link, Managing Director of Human Resources for Randstad. “The data suggests that U.S. workers are less challenged by their current jobs. It also raises questions about how this will affect employee turnover and retention as the job market recovers.”

America’s new super-workers

Employees were also polled around their intent to pursue further education or training in an effort to achieve career advancement. Despite 97 percent reporting that they are qualified or overqualified for their current job, an astounding 62 percent say they still wish they had more skills. “Hard skills” such as a degree or knowledge of a trade or industry were most desired at 41 percent, while “soft skills” such as emotional, social, leadership and organizational intelligence followed not far behind with 30 percent. Even some workers (8 percent) reported wishing they had more of both skill sets.

As might be expected, younger employees, age 18 to 34, were most likely to want more skills, at 74 percent, versus 56 percent of older workers. Half of Gen Y and Millennial workers wish they had more hard skills and 40 percent wish they had more soft skills.

“The results suggest that once jobs start opening up, young, motivated workers will begin seeking more advanced, challenging positions where they can grow,” says Link. “In order to retain these go-getters, employers now more than ever should be investing in the skills development and training that their employees value most.”

Continuing motivation through education

Not only are American workers ready and willing to learn new skills, but they are also willing to take a number of steps to attain those skills. Nearly two thirds of employees (64 percent) reported willingness to take on some form of additional burden or expense in order to obtain the skills needed for a better job. At least half of employees (51 percent) say they would attend company sponsored training courses in pursuit of new, marketable skills. One out of every five would pay out of pocket or take out loans to pursue continued education or training.

Again, younger workers revealed to be among the most eager to develop new skills. Of those 18 to 34, 60 percent say they would attend a company sponsored course. More than one third reported willingness to pay out of pocket to go back to school, and nearly a quarter (24 percent) say they would spend thousands of dollars in pursuit of the skills needed for a better job. In contrast, only 13 percent of older employees are willing to pay for continued education.

The survey also found that 50 percent of employees across all age groups said skills learned in the workplace prepared them more for their current job than did their formal education.

“Now that the economy is improving and job opportunities are opening up, companies need to again focus on continued training and development for their employees. To motivate them, employers should first understand what their employees value; and second, how that aligns with their organizational goals and values,” says Link. “Only then can they develop a successful training program that will benefit both the employer and the employee now and for years to come.”

Abbreviated Survey Methodology

For the survey, a national sample of 1,006 adults aged 18 and older who are currently employed full or part time from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online. The poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs May 2 – May 5, 2011. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. population of working adults according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire population of employed adults aged 18 and older in the United States been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. Total percentages may add up to more than 100% due to rounding.

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice which conducts strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based on public opinion research. They are the international polling agency of record for Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. To learn more, visit:

About Randstad US

Randstad US is a wholly owned subsidiary of Randstad Holding nv, an $18.8 billion global provider of HR services and the second largest staffing organization in the world. The company plays a pivotal role in shaping the world of work, leveraging the true value of human capital for the benefit of our clients, candidates, employees and investors.

Randstad offers a comprehensive range of HR services to our clients. They provide temporary, temporary-to-hire, direct hire and outsourced placement services for local and global customers and fulfill all aspects of commercial and professional staffing within Accounting & Finance, Office & Administration, Engineering, Healthcare, IT, Legal, Life Sciences, and Manufacturing & Logistics. Other offerings include payrolling, managed services, recruitment process outsourcing and HR consulting solutions.

Randstad provides skills assessments, career counseling, training, health coverage and 401(k) to eligible internal and external employees. With its 2,500 employment experts, Randstad puts an average of 50,000 people to work in the U.S. each week, through its network of more than 500 branches and client-dedicated locations.

More information is available at the company’s website,


For Randstad
Katherine Ellison, 404-870-6804


For Randstad
Katherine Ellison, 404-870-6804