By Sara Toland

Sara is Senior Manager, Workforce Readiness/Business and Community Engagement with Corporate Voices for Working Families. She posts regularly on this blog.

Corporate Voices for Working Families has released a report titled “What Are Business Leaders Saying About Workforce Readiness?”.  The report offers an in-depth analysis of a recent series of surveys and focus groups conducted with 150 American business leaders.

The report (see previous blog post “What Are Business Leaders Saying About Workforce Readiness?”) highlights the fact that 97 percent of the business leaders surveyed agree that workforce readiness is a critical business imperative.  They are deeply concerned about their future workforce and the cost of providing training to a generation of ill-prepared workers.  Furthermore, these leaders report it is imperative that top decision makers focus on workforce readiness and the talent development pipeline as a critical investment in their future productivity – not an additional expense.

“The skills gap affecting our businesses and communities today is recognized by both employers and the general public.  This recently released report is exciting because it builds on recent poll findings, conducted by Public Policy Polling, through the generous support of our member company, Workplace Options, Inc., that the general public agrees with employers – approximately 56 percent feel that more than a quarter of the nation’s youth do not possess the skills they need to be prepared for work” stated Stephen M. Wing, President of Corporate Voices.

To help better prepare their future workforce, many businesses reported to have entered into community-wide partnerships.  Business leaders hope they can bring important private sector expertise and offer valuable assets to community organizations, including leadership, advocacy, infrastructure support and financial contributions.  But these same leaders report 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.

This report informs Corporate Voices’ workforce readiness platform and three main areas of work: Ready by 21, Learn and Earn and Alternative Pathways for youth.  Through this work, Corporate Voices creates bridges between public and private entities ensuring that all stakeholders are coming together to find solutions that span the education and talent development pipeline from cradle to career to make certain that youth are ready for work and the U.S. remains competitive.