The future of American business competitiveness is directly tied to the quality and skills of the current and incoming workforce.  But many entry level employees are transitioning from school to the workforce without the skills needed to succeed at work.  Corporate Voices for Working Families conducted a series of surveys and focus groups to gain a better understanding of business leaders’ current level of engagement and interest in supporting the work readiness of their future employees.  These surveys were analyzed and compiled into the “What Are Business Leaders Saying About Workforce Readiness?” brief released today.

According to these survey results, 97 percent of the 150 surveyed business leaders agree that their organization considers workforce readiness a critical business imperative.  These leaders are deeply concerned about their future workforce and the cost of providing training to a generation of workers they view as ill-prepared for the demands on the job.  As a result, these leaders report it is imperative that the top decision makers in their organization focus on workforce readiness and the talent development pipeline as a critical investment in their future productivity – not an additional expanse.

To help prepare their future workers, many businesses reported that they are involved in a variety of community-wide partnerships.  Business leaders believe they can bring important private sector expertise to community partnerships and can offer valuable assets, including leadership, advocacy, infrastructure support and financial contributions, but reported frequent challenges and frustrations in engaging and sustaining community partnerships, including:

  • Lack of data delivered in a way to show the story of investments and the direct impact on youth and families;
  • Frequency of duplicate conversations with community partners;
  • Lack of transparency in the partnership from the community organization; and
  • Lack of firm and measurable outcomes.

Through the work of Ready by 21 National Partnership, Corporate Voices works to build a bridge between private and public sector leaders to establish and sustain partnerships focused on preparing future workers. These cross-sector leaders must work together to strengthen the talent development pipeline by creating comprehensive, coordinated and integrated system of learning and development that provides a range of opportunities for youth to succeed throughout school and into their working lives.  Corporate Voices, along with Ready by 21 national partners, have created a variety of tools and briefs for both community and business leaders to utilize in order to build and sustain relationships to create a stronger pool of workers.  These tools include the release of the Business Engagement Toolkit for Community-Based Organizations which will assist community leaders in creating beneficial and sustainable partnerships with business by providing lessons on how to identify potential partners, set realistic goals and how to establish partnerships for long-term success.