The most recent jobs report showed that employers added just 64,000 workers in September, local governments cut 95,000 jobs (mostly temporary census employees) and unemployment held steady at 9.6%. Clearly, employers aren’t looking to expand their ranks.

However, new survey data from the American Management Association show employers are looking to expand the skills of the workers they already have. A majority of executives (79%) name communication skills as the top employee development priority for the immediate future, AMA finds.

Communication beats out critical thinking (73%), collaboration/team building (72%), and creativity and innovation (66%) as competencies that are the top priorities for employee development, talent management, and succession planning in the next one to three years.

"Workforce preparedness has become a pressing concern for all U.S. businesses,” notes Sandi Edwards, SVP for AMA’s Corporate Learning Solutions. "Companies perceive these ‘four Cs’ [as] so crucial for business success in a knowledge-based world economy."

AMA also examined the importance of the "four Cs" for annual performance reviews and hiring. Communications skills again ranked first among the competencies assessed on a yearly basis and, likewise, during the hiring process more organizations make an effort to assess communication abilities than any other competencies.

Which of the "four Cs" tops your list for both current employees and future recruits?

Personally, I agree with communication being tops, but would have placed creativity higher, especially since innovative ideas are what’s needed to lead companies out of recession. What about you? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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