Donna Klein, Executive Chair and Founder of Corporate Voices for Working Families, was one of a select group of 130 national leaders from business, nonprofit organizations and education who were invited by President Obama to share their ideas on job creation during the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth.

Klein was part of a panel discussion, Preparing Workers and Strengthening Main Street, led by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

“A high-quality workforce remains the key driver of growth for American business,” Klein said during the jobs forum. “We need to continue to invest in training to ensure a strong talent pipeline. While we know this forum focuses more on job creation, it’s not an either-or proposition. We must continue to address the need for better training and skill development while we seek to get the economy back on track and generate new jobs.”

Two comprehensive research studies completed by Corporate Voices and other organizations, Are They Really Ready To Work? and The Ill-Prepared U.S. Workforce: Exploring the Challenges of Employer-Provided Workforce Readiness Training, highlight issues, challenges and workforce readiness policy recommendations involving employers and new entrants into the workplace.

During the jobs forum and panel discussion, Klein offered the following recommendations:

  • Create a “Scale What Works” fund within the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). This would be a federally administered competitive grant program designed to scale programs with a demonstrated record of success meeting the needs of business and workers.
  • Support innovative partnerships among community colleges, business and nonprofits. The American Graduation Initiative should include funding that is dedicated to invest in these multi-sector partnerships.
  • Establish a federally funded transitional jobs training program that would target the disconnected youth population, as well as other particularly vulnerable segments of the population.

“Low-skilled and at-risk young adults have been particularly hard hit by the current recession. The unemployment rate for this population is higher than it has ever been, and it is likely they will be among the last hired back into the workforce,” Klein said. “However, as employers, and as a nation as a whole, we cannot afford to write off large segments of the population.”

Publications, research studies and toolkits on a host of workforce readiness, flexibility, family economic stability, and work and family balance issues are available on the Corporate Voices Web site at www.cvworkingfamilies.org