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RMU poll: Many worry young adults lack social skills due to technology

| Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 11:21 p.m.
Almost half of Americans say smartphones and other technology make it difficult for them to balance their personal and professional lives, a new poll on employment issues finds. A higher percentage — 70.3 percent — worry that technological advances might be impairing the social skills of younger workers who often appear to be glued to their smartphones and tablets, according the survey by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute, which Trib Total Media sponsors.

Almost half of Americans say smartphones and other technology make it difficult for them to balance their personal and professional lives, a poll on employment issues finds.

A higher percentage — 70.3 percent — worry that technological advances might be impairing the social skills of younger workers who often appear to be glued to their smartphones and tablets, according the survey by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute, which Trib Total Media sponsors.

“Those who are older tend to discount the changes as a means of making less contact, less professional contact. I think it's different, not necessarily worse. Face-to-face engagement is still important, but we do have many other ways to communicate now, too,” said Wendy Beckemeyer, vice president for enrollment at Robert Morris.

The poll showed 44.8 percent of respondents struggle to balance their personal and professional lives because improved technology allows them to access work-related emails and other materials when they're out of the office.

About 89.9 percent said they try to find a balance — meaning one in 10 people do not.

Nearly a third of all respondents — 30 percent — said they were in a position to hire employees or have input on hiring decisions.

Of them, 38.3 percent said they would be unwilling to hire job candidates with tattoos or piercings. About 47 percent said they would be very or somewhat willing to do so.

Asked to rate 33 traits in potential employees, the traits that topped the list are: reliable, dependable, intelligent, willing to learn and organized.

“Reliability, dependability and the openness to learn are skills honed while in college, which gives college graduates an advantage in this very competitive market,” Beckemeyer said. “College students manage multiple expectations and deadlines while pursuing a long-term goal, traditionally for four years, to acquire knowledge and skills that will serve them for a lifetime.”

The nationwide poll surveyed 1,004 people, proportional to state populations. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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