Corporate Voices


Across corporate America, workplace wellness efforts are increasingly recognized as smart business investments.  And for some companies, health and wellness includes helping employees nurture healthy family relationships at home.

Is your company among them?  Corporate Voices is leading a research project on the role businesses can play in promoting healthy relationships and the potential benefits associated with these efforts in the workplace.  We would love to know more about your company’s practices.  Please assist us by answering a few brief questions by clicking the link below.

http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e6x8e1iehc10swk2/start

Your responses are strictly confidential, and will help advance new research in this field. Thank you for your valuable input.

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The Coalition to Preserve Employer Provided Education Assistance has recently launched a letter to Congress asking for members to support a tax extenders package that includes Section 127.

Currently, Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code allows an employee to exclude from income up to $5,250 per year in employer-provided tuition reimbursement for their continuing education. It also encourages employers to invest in their people, attract and retain talented workers, and compete more successfully in the global marketplace. Since being enacted in 1978, Sec. 127 has become such an important benefit that Congress has renewed it nine times.

Without Congressional action, Section 127, along with many other tax benefits, will expire in just a few short weeks – on December 31, 2012.  The extension of all of these benefits is caught up in proposals to avert the pending fiscal cliff.  Both parties agree on extending many of these tax cuts but Congressional Republicans and President Obama disagree on whether and what level of income tax breaks should apply. While Sec. 127 currently has no income limitation, our research shows that individuals who benefit from Sec. 127 earn a median income of $40,000 annually.  An income limit at the current proposed amounts would likely not impact most employees who rely on the tuition rebate.

Corporate Voices continues to work with businesses, policy makers, and non-governmental organizations to help create a better understanding about the public and private sector resources that increase job opportunities, improve financial stability, build assets and enhance productivity. As a member of the Coalition to Preserve Employer Provided Education Assistance, Corporate Voices will continue to advocate for the inclusion of Section 127 in any final negotiation.

To write your member of Congress about Section 127, visit: http://capwiz.com/cpepea/home and let your voice be heard on this important issue. In the coming weeks we will provide updates on how Sec. 127 fares in any final deal, if a deal is reached, later this month.

WASHINGTON (October 18, 2012)–A remarkably broad coalition of national education, business, philanthropic and policy groups has come together to create a clear, unified and focused vision for what it means to be career ready.

The goal of the Career Readiness Partner Council is to enhance reform efforts around college and career readiness to include a more comprehensive understanding of what it means to be career ready. The Council’s statement, “Building Blocks For Change: What it Means to be Career Ready,” makes clear that career readiness is a process of connecting “education and employment to achieve a fulfilling, financially-secure and successful career.” The document establishes that career readiness must foster “adaptability and a commitment to lifelong learning, along with a mastery of key knowledge, skills and dispositions that vary from one career to another and change over time.”

“This bold, clear and comprehensive vision crystallizes what it means to be career ready and advances earlier policy debates that too often focused almost exclusively on college entrance and completion,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, the group that coordinated the effort. “We realized that what is needed is a broader approach that combines education and workforce preparation under one umbrella. With this document, the Career Readiness Partner Council has taken an important step toward that goal.”

This comprehensive definition, supported by an unusually broad alliance of groups, will help inform policy in states and communities across the country. It offers clear guidance, and lays out next steps for:

•    Policymakers
•    High school teachers, leaders and counselors
•    Business and industry
•    Higher education
•    Parents and students, and
•    Communities.

Some 27 influential groups representing a wide swath of the education and workforce-development spectrum spent months outlining the vision. The coalition consulted leading researchers and practitioners during the development, and drew heavily from the rich body of work from many of the participating organizations.

“Having such a diverse group at the table gave us the opportunity to consider a wide range of perspectives on what it means to be career ready throughout a person’s lifetime,” said Green.

“We hope,” the document says, “this definition spurs conversation and action in communities across the nation. The inextricable link between education and the economy has never been more apparent, the urgency for change unparalleled. We have a window of opportunity for bold change, and the future of our nation, and each and every citizen depends on it.”

The full report and a complete list of the participating organizations can be found at CareerReadyNow.org.

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The Career Readiness Partner Council is a broad-based coalition of education, policy, business and philanthropic organizations that strives to forward a more comprehensive vision for what it means to be career ready. For more information, visit CareerReadyNow.org.

Contact: Lori Meyer                        For Immediate Release
Cell Phone: 202-215-6349
lorimeyer@mail.com

In the United States, there are 6.7 million young adults ages 16-24 who are out of school and out of work, and the employment rate for 18-24 year olds is the lowest ever recorded since the government began to keep track in 1948. But this challenge of youth underemployment is not just a domestic issue.  According to The McKinsey Company, there are 75 million unemployed young adults in the world today.  Despite this enormous pool of untapped talent, McKinsey also states that 34 percent of employers report that they cannot fill job vacancies due to a lack of both soft and hard skills in applicants.

Last week global youth underemployment was spotlighted at Business Civic Leadership Center’s (BCLC) 2012 Global Corporate Citizenship Conference.  At the event, best-practice companies like The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Hilton Worldwide and Microsoft discussed how youth underemployment continues to plague communities and businesses across the globe, and how companies can work and scale solutions to social barriers and job creation in markets outside the United States.  As Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs, at Microsoft stated, “we see the potential, see the challenge and see where we [Microsoft] can make a difference.”

Also last week in the Huffington Post, Bobbi Silten, President, Gap Foundation and Senior Vice President, Global Responsibility for Gap Inc. published a blog emphasizing the importance of a young adults’ first work experience.  She encouraged companies across the United States to learn how to create work experiences for the young adults in their communities by accessing a toolkit for employers at www.opportunitynation.org/youthandbusiness.

Want to learn more about solutions in talent development and the young unemployment crisis? Visit www.corporatevoices.org.

The day after: the time for political junkies, the everyday voter and the campaigns to debate which candidate “won,” who reached the undecided voters, and, of all things, Big Bird.    Lost in the sound bites and the spin is that the focus of last night’s debate was on the economy and  ways to get Americans back to work.  One solution that has support from both sides of the aisle are private and public partnerships that help American workers upgrade and expand their skills by balancing work and higher education.  As President Obama stated during the debate,

“ . . . And one of the things I suspect Governor Romney and I probably agree on is getting businesses to work with community colleges… here they’re partnering so that they’re designing training programs. And people who are going through them know that there’s a job waiting for them if they complete it.”

Small, medium and large businesses understand the need to make more strategic investments in their future and current human capital.  They are looking to higher education providers, including community colleges, to do just that: to build a skilled workforce with the credentials to meet the labor needs of their companies.  These companies, including Walmart, McDonald’s, Verizon and Pacific Gas & Electric, are committed to “growing their own” workforce and report strong outcomes not only for the business but the workers themselves and the surrounding communities.  To find out more about how these private and public partnerships are beneficial to getting Americans back to work, check out:  A Talent Development Solution: Exploring Business Drivers and Returns in Learn and Earn Partnerships.Image

New research from Corporate Voices for Working Families documents the promise
of Learn and Earn partnerships 

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In an election season dominated by widespread worry over persistent joblessness and an anemic economic recovery, a new research report documents a promising path for America’s employers and workers.

A Talent Development Solution: Exploring Business Drivers and Returns in Learn and Earn Partnerships, examines the potential of “Learn and Earn” models—an approach that connects employers and education providers to give companies the skilled workers they need to compete, while helping individual Americans earn a postsecondary degree, marketable credentials, and a brighter economic future. The report is published by Corporate Voices for Working Families, a nonpartisan business organization that advances innovative policy solutions to the challenges facing working families.

Based on extensive research, A Talent Development Solution explores the business impact of employer-education partnerships, offering examples from some of the nation’s leading corporations, including IBM, McDonald’s, and Verizon Wireless. Through employer tuition assistance, accredited corporate training, flexible scheduling and other critical supports, these partnerships enable employees to continue their education while working to support themselves or a family. The report profiles 22 best-practice companies ranging in size, sector, location and type of education partner—most often, a single community college or a regional consortium of education providers who best understand their region’s labor market and can customize academic curriculum to meet emerging workforce needs.

It also documents how these programs are earning positive returns on investment for the companies supporting them. Beyond the primary impact—building a better-skilled talent pool—employers report these education partnerships yield improved employee retention, higher productivity, a more diverse workforce, and an enhanced reputation in the communities they serve.

“The primary lesson from our research is that Learn and Earn partnerships work,” said John Wilcox, Executive Director of Corporate Voices.  “They help American employers address a national skills gap that hampers business productivity and hurts our ability to compete. And these programs work for workers—many of them lower-skilled young adults whose life prospects will be sharply limited without a postsecondary degree or credential.”  Indeed, well-documented changes in the global economy are fueling demand for a more highly educated workforce.  An estimated two-thirds of job openings in the next decade will require some level of postsecondary education.  At our current pace of college completion, the nation will fall short of that mark by at least 3 million degrees.

A Talent Development Solution offers practical, concrete action steps for business leaders committed to ensuring their employees have the skills their jobs demand, while supporting the higher-education and career aspirations of the workers on whom their own success surely depends. In fact, U.S. companies already spend enormous resources—an estimated $485 billion annually—on formal and informal education and training. Employers have a vested interest in supporting solutions to their own talent needs and in building a workforce that is second to none in the 21st-century global economy.  In light of their successful record, Learn and Earn programs should be widely embraced and eagerly adopted by American employers, argues Corporate Voices.

The full report, including detailed case studies on each of the partnerships documented, is available here. An executive summary is available as well.

Corporate Voices’ Learn and Earn work is generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Follow Corporate Voices on Facebook and Twitter – @corporatevoices and the report’s hashtag #TalentDevelopmentSolution!

The current edition of Community College Journal features an article on mutually beneficial partnerships between community colleges and businesses. “Working With Industry,” by Ellen Ullman, relates how building these partnerships within communities can aid community colleges not only with funding, but also the development and implementation of programs of study that result in students completing and obtaining credentials with labor market value.

In the article, I shared key foundational steps for establishing these partnerships in a way that benefits businesses. These steps include the need to research regional economic imperatives, set clear goals between partners, and have a system in place to measure those goals. These essential elements to building successful business-community college partnerships in addition to others are described in more detail in Corporate Voices’ publication, Business and Community College Partnerships: A Blueprint – as highlighted in the article.

Businesses and community colleges each have strengths to contribute to these partnerships which Corporate Voices identifies as Learn and Earn models. Business partners can provide their real-time needs to academia and validate learning outcomes, often connected to industry-recognized credentials. This leads to improved job placement rates and greater visibility for the program. Community colleges, typically, are deeply connected to the regional economy and have the flexibility needed to expand curricula and programs as the needs of the region and its employers develop.

Through a Learn and Earn partnership, each member is able to meet several goals. Businesses are able to create a talent pipeline through which current and future employees receive 21st century workplace education and training. This leads to improved retention rates among employees, improved skill and education levels, and a boost in productivity. Community colleges receive validated curriculum, increased revenue, and increased ability to meet their student completion goals.

Corporate Voices is documenting these partnerships in a new report, to be released later this month, entitled A Talent Development Solution: Exploring Business Drivers and Returns in Learn and Earn Partnership. The report will describe Learn and Earn models as they help to bridge the skills gap for employers while encouraging and/or supporting current and future employees’ attainment of postsecondary credentials. Thus far Corporate Voices has documented over twenty such partnerships in our micro-case study series.

As Ms. Ullman succinctly states in her article, “The decision to work with industry seems like a no-brainer. Local businesses and corporations have a vested interest in seeing students succeed. And community colleges have a reputation for tailoring curricula to local needs.”  Corporate Voices sees the reasons to work with community colleges as equally compelling and encourages best practice companies to become Learn and Earn leaders.

To read the full Community College Journal article, go to “Working With Industry.”
To view Early Findings of the Learn and Earn report, go to A Talent Development Solution.

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