Closing Gap Between Workers’ Skills and Employers’ Needs

With a widening gap between employers’ demands for more skilled workers and workers’ skills, there is an urgent need to grow a better educated and trained workforce, according to recommendations from The Springboard Project. The recommendations highlight specific public policy changes and business-led initiatives to overcome obstacles that thwart workers’ prosperity and threaten U.S. competitiveness.

With national unemployment rates at 10 percent, stagnant earnings and job instability plagued American workers well before the recession began because of low high school graduation rates, poor college completion rates and overall inadequate levels of education. Globally, the United States ranks second-to-last among developed nations in post-secondary completion rates.

Though American workers remain the most productive in the world, the country risks losing that edge if we don’t foster opportunities and the expectation that workers must continually upgrade their skills throughout their careers. Seventy-three percent of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projected fastest growing occupations over the next six years will require some level of postsecondary or vocational credentials. Furthermore, the occupations requiring the lowest qualifications are the least secure.

“Improving education is essential to building a better trained and skilled workforce,” said William D. Green, chairman & CEO of Accenture and chairman of The Springboard Project. “This must be a top national priority if America is to retain a leadership position in an increasingly competitive global economy. We are recommending six initiatives to help close our growing skills gap.”

The project’s recommendations focus on both immediate and longer-term actions for government, business and educators to keep America’s workforce well prepared and competitive throughout the 21st century:

1) Create incentives to build a better educated and trained workforce. Increase post-secondary education and training attainment rates to meet market demand and provide personal opportunity by rewarding institutions and individuals.

2) Develop nationally recognized workforce certifications and credentials to empower students and workers.

3) Communicate timely and consumer-friendly labor market and related education information to workers.

4) Bring 21st-century innovation to education and training.

5) Unlock the value of community colleges and two-year institutions to revitalize local economies.

6) Foster lifelong learning by encouraging a new mindset.

Business Roundtable will act on and advocate for policy changes included in The Springboard Project’s final report. Specifically, it will ask member companies to partner with at least one state; community college; or other two- or four-year college, school district or non-profit organization. Further, it will develop Workforce 101, a Web-based, free, interactive course for high school and college students on workplace needs and expectations. Finally, it will reach out to other business organizations and companies to build strong support for the recommendations.

For more information on Business Roundtable and The Springboard Project, visit the Website www.businessroundtable.org

With a widening gap between employers’ demands for more skilled workers and workers’ skills, there is an urgent need to grow a better educated and trained workforce, according to recommendations from The Springboard Project. The recommendations highlight specific public policy changes and business-led initiatives to overcome obstacles that thwart workers’ prosperity and threaten U.S. competitiveness.

With national unemployment rates at 10 percent, stagnant earnings and job instability plagued American workers well before the recession began because of low high school graduation rates, poor college completion rates and overall inadequate levels of education. Globally, the United States ranks second-to-last among developed nations in post-secondary completion rates.

Though American workers remain the most productive in the world, the country risks losing that edge if we don’t foster opportunities and the expectation that workers must continually upgrade their skills throughout their careers. Seventy-three percent of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projected fastest growing occupations over the next six years will require some level of postsecondary or vocational credentials. Furthermore, the occupations requiring the lowest qualifications are the least secure.

“Improving education is essential to building a better trained and skilled workforce,” said William D. Green, chairman & CEO of Accenture and chairman of The Springboard Project. “This must be a top national priority if America is to retain a leadership position in an increasingly competitive global economy. We are recommending six initiatives to help close our growing skills gap.”

The project’s recommendations focus on both immediate and longer-term actions for government, business and educators to keep America’s workforce well prepared and competitive throughout the 21st century:

1) Create incentives to build a better educated and trained workforce. Increase post-secondary education and training attainment rates to meet market demand and provide personal opportunity by rewarding institutions and individuals.

2) Develop nationally recognized workforce certifications and credentials to empower students and workers.

3) Communicate timely and consumer-friendly labor market and related education information to workers.

4) Bring 21st-century innovation to education and training.

5) Unlock the value of community colleges and two-year institutions to revitalize local economies.

6) Foster lifelong learning by encouraging a new mindset.

Business Roundtable will act on and advocate for policy changes included in The Springboard Project’s final report. Specifically, it will ask member companies to partner with at least one state; community college; or other two- or four-year college, school district or non-profit organization. Further, it will develop Workforce 101, a Web-based, free, interactive course for high school and college students on workplace needs and expectations. Finally, it will reach out to other business organizations and companies to build strong support for the recommendations.

For more information on Business Roundtable and The Springboard Project, visit the Website www.businessroundtable.org

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