Interesting story Wednesday on Reuters and various national news media, including CNN. It pointed to the fact that AT&T is having a hard time finding enough qualified employees to fill all the 5,000 customer service jobs the company said it would return to the United States from India.Here’s one part of the story:

“We’re having trouble finding the numbers that we need with the skills that are required to do these jobs,” AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson told a business group in San Antonio, where the company’s headquarters in located.

Here’s another part:

Stephenson said he is especially distressed that in some U.S. communities and among certain groups, the high school dropout rate is as high as 50 percent.

“If I had a business that half the product we turned out was defective or you couldn’t put into the marketplace, I would shut that business down,” he said.

Stephenson’s concerns, and the dilemma facing AT&T in finding qualified employees, focus on an issue that is gaining increased attention in the business community and elsewhere: workforce readiness. It’s an issue that Corporate Voices for Working Families is very much involved with — and we know from research and from interactions with our partner organizations that this is a serious issue, one that threatens the ability of the business community to remain competitive in a challenging global economy.

In fact, improving the workforce readiness of young people is a growing priority within the business community. And businesses must play a leadership role in articulating the necessary changes necessary to prepare tomorrow’s workforce for the challenges of the 21st Century and working toward achieving those changes.

This is an issue that we’ll visit often on this blog — and we would welcome your comments.

In the meantime, Corporate Voices for Working Families, The Conference Board, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the Society for Human Resources Management conducted in 2006 an in-depth study of the corporate perspective on the readiness of new employees into the U.S. workforce. That study — Are They Really Ready To Work? — is available on the Corporate Voices Web site.


by Rob Jewell corporatevoices-128.jpg