Employers are placing more emphasis on skills and attributes rather than just grades when evaluating new college graduates, according to a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). The report revealed that most employers prioritize problem-solving abilities (88.7%) and strong teamwork skills (78.9%) when assessing candidates. Additionally, qualities such as a strong work ethic, communication skills (both written and verbal), analytical/quantitative skills, flexibility/adaptability, and technical skills are also highly valued by at least two-thirds of employers.

Shawn VanDerziel, president and CEO of NACE, highlighted the importance of college students developing competencies that are applicable in the workplace, both inside and outside the classroom. He emphasized the significance of candidates being able to effectively link the skills and qualities they have developed to the position they are applying for.

The report also highlighted the increasing value of internship experience, with employers considering it the top factor when choosing between equally qualified candidates. However, the use of GPA as a screening tool has decreased, with only 38.3% of employers utilizing it compared to 73.3% in 2019. This shift reflects a broader understanding among employers that skills and competencies are more indicative of a candidate's potential and signifies a move toward building a more inclusive workforce.

The survey, conducted between Aug. 2, 2023, and Sept. 18, 2023, garnered 255 responses, with 180 of the respondents being NACE employer members.  

California experienced the largest decline in job growth in the U.S. when comparing job creation in all states before and after the COVID pandemic, a new report finds.

An analysis by the Orange County Register columnist Jonathan Lansner found that California’s job creation in 2019-2023 — a period that includes the last pre-pandemic year as well the COVID-induced shutdowns and the economy’s recovery — was 54% lower than it was in the 2015-2019 period. 

The report used federal and state employment data to look at job creation across the state of California and in some of its major metropolitan areas.

Los Angeles skyline night

Los Angeles County saw one of the largest hiring slowdowns in the report. (iStock / iStock)

It found that California gained 640,300 jobs in the 2019-2023 period and recovered all of the jobs lost due to the pandemic-related restrictions imposed by the state and local governments while adding more jobs on top of those regained. 

However, that figure is about 743,000 jobs less than the 1.38 million workers the state added in the pre-pandemic 2015-2019 period — which caused California to fall from being the national leader in job creation during the earlier period to ranking third in the latter four-year window.

Lansner’s analysis found that employment growth shrank in 25 of the 29 California job markets he tracked. Hiring in Los Angeles County slowed by 71% compared to the pre-pandemic period, while San Francisco’s declined by 81% and the Oakland — Berkeley area by 88%.

California State Capitol

The state and local governments in California imposed strict COVID era restrictions that hit the economy hard. (Visions of America/Joe Sohm/Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Across the country, he found that in the other 49 states plus the District of Columbia, the number of jobs added in the last four years was about 4.6 million, while the comparable pre-pandemic period saw gains of about 7.7 million jobs. 

That amounts to a job creation slowdown of about 40% nationally with a relative shortfall of about 3.1 million jobs.

The San Francisco skyline

The San Fransciso Bay Area, including both San Francisco and the Oakland-Berkeley area, saw the largest declines in relative job creation in the report. (Brandon Sloter/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Just 10 states managed to accelerate the pace of hiring in their economies in the 2019-2023 period compared to the 2015-2019 window.

Texas led the way by adding 191,900 more jobs in the 2019-2023 period than in 2015-2019, followed by Montana with 11,200 and North Dakota with 10,300. 

They were followed by seven other states including South Dakota, Arkansas, Wyoming, Kentucky, Alaska, Idaho and Kansas that saw smaller net improvements in the pace of job creation.

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