More than half of workers believe that the U.S. is unprepared to compete in the global economy, feeling let down both by schools and colleges and by a lack of interest in training and development from big employers.
Research by recruitment firm Adecco has found that three-quarters of employed adults believe U.S employers do not invest enough in training and development to keep the workforce competitive with those in other countries.
The increased competition for talent from emerging markets such as China and India is becoming a key theme on the nascent American presidential campaign trail and debate is intensifying over the education and training needs of America's workforce of today and the future, said Adecco.
Nearly two-thirds of the 3,434 workers polled were critical of the U.S educational system for not providing workers with the necessary skills to be prepared for the jobs of the future, the poll found.
A massive nine out of 10 agreed that strengthening the education system should be a top priority for the U.S in the next decade.
Older adults (aged over 55) were significantly more likely than younger adults (aged 18-34) to agree that America was not prepared to compete in a global economy, it also concluded.
"What this survey reveals is that a majority of workers have a negative perception of how we're being educated and trained in America," said Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer for Adecco USA.
Yet, as latest figures showed training spending grew from $51.1 billion in 2005 to $55.8 billion in 2006, the clear message was not that companies are not spending enough, rather that they were failing to communicate effectively to workers what they were doing and how important training and development was to their organisation, she argued.
Within the report Adecco has suggested employers should issue a training and development report each year to all employees outlining what training is scheduled to take place, how it will impact on the organisation, and how the company see itself improving employees' performance.
Employees should be told how much their your company is investing in training and development and more publicity given to linking its programmes to the success and the growth of the company.
Successful training programmes should be celebrated by showcasing examples of how people have implemented what they've learned into their work, it recommended.
"At Adecco, we believe that your career is your greatest investment and that your education and training should not only be supported by your employer, but also by yourself for yourself," said Kenny.
"We encourage people to spend just as much time and energy on their career health as they do their financial and physical health. One's own career management is too often overlooked," she added.