Policy


Data Supports Corporate Voices’ Ongoing Efforts to Strengthen America’s Businesses and Job-Seeking Young Adults Through Smarter Workforce Training Investments

Last week, Demos, a New York-based  non-partisan public policy research and advocacyImage organization, released its report, Stuck: Young America’s Persistent Jobs Crisis, highlighting the current youth employment crisis in the United States and examining how the struggles and experiences of young adults in 2012 will impact the future of the U.S. workforce.

Through analysis of Department of Labor statistics, Demos found there are currently 5.6 million 18 to 34-year-olds who are both willing and able to take a job and actively looking for work, but are shut out of opportunities for employment. This is particularly difficult for young adults without a high school diploma, as 19.7 percent of 18 to 24-year-old high school graduates with no college experience are unemployed while 1 in 3 are underemployed. Additionally, Demos found that the young adult workforce would need 4.1 million new jobs to return to pre-recession levels, and at the rate of job growth after the Great Recession, the country will not recover to full employment levels until 2022. In short, the outlook does not look good for young adults looking for work now and in the immediate future.

This crisis has had a drastic effect on the business community as well. The Manpower Group’s 2012 Talent Shortage Survey found that there are 3.4 million job vacancies left unfilled as employers have reported difficulty in finding the skilled workers they need to fill positions. This disconnect between companies looking for skilled and motivated talent and ambitious young people looking for work weighs on our economic recovery and on our long-term strength as a nation. America needs to harness and engage all of its human capital to compete globally. Smart investment in youth training and human capital development is just that—an investment in being smarter about how businesses and individuals all lean into the future.

As Congress seeks proven returns on public investments, looking to new models of transparent and accountable public private partnership provides the vision for success. These new pathway models demonstrate what can be done to update and reinvigorate the nation’s workforce training system, building on the foundation to meet current realities and future opportunities.

For several years, Corporate Voices for Working Families has been at the forefront of analyzing the business impact of increased investment in employment pathway programs for young adults. Businesses across the country have collaborated with local partners and public programs to meet their talent development goals by developing employment pathway opportunities for untapped talent – a population of 6.7 million opportunity youth.

With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation under its New Options Project, Corporate ImageVoices has identified and spotlighted businesses that make significant contributions to employment pathways that provide career training to low-income young adults.

Stuck: Young America’s Persistent Jobs Crisis serves as further evidence that business and public partners need to work together to invest in employment pathway programs for opportunity youth to secure a talented and stable workforce that businesses need today and in the future.

Corporate Voices’ series of micro-business cases is available here.

The Demos report Stuck: Young America’s Persistent Jobs Crisis is available here.

Founded in 2001, Corporate Voices for Working Families is the leading national business membership organization shaping conversations and collaborations on public and corporate policy issues involving working families. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, we create and advance innovative policy solutions that reflect a commonality of interests among the private sector both global and domestic, government and other stakeholders.

We are a unique voice, and we provide leading and best-practice employers a forum to improve the lives of working families, while strengthening our nation’s economy and enhancing the vitality of our communities.

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Corporate Voices for Working Families’ 2013 Annual Partners Meeting put the spotlight last week  on corporate leadership beyond the workplace, providing presentations rich in content, lively discussions and opportunities for attendees to network with other business leaders and policymakers.

The meeting provided a forum to examine and discuss a host of critical workforce readiness and work/life issues that are critically important to Corporate Voices’ partner companies. These included how employment pathways for younger workers just entering the world of work can benefit employees and employers; the opportunities and challenges in employer engagement in higher education; how demographic changes are reshaping the economic and political landscapes; new thinking in workplace diversity and corporate wellness; and how responsible corporate leaders can – and must – engage in national efforts to foster job creation and stronger economic growth.

ImageJim Quigley, CEO Emeritus of Deloitte, gave one of the keynote presentations, demonstrating how critical it is for business leaders to lead by example and foster a culture of values and respect. Quigley, co-author of As One: Individual Action, Collective Power, led the audience on a “conversation on leadership.”

“As leaders I would challenge you to consider whether the conditions for success are in place,” he said. “Have we created clarity about our key goals? Can we communicate these ideas in a way that we can be successful?”

Dr. Michael Dimock, Director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, led the second keynote presentation. He engaged the audience with a discussion of values, demographics, generations and technology, highlighting how policymakers need to forge Imagesolutions to the significant problems facing our nation and working families – while spotlighting the importance for business leaders, and the businesses they represent, to engage in a manner that fosters job creation and stronger economic growth.

Among the takeaways from Dimock’s presentation was a point relevant to public policy work: Pew research indicates that American public opinion on values hasn’t changed over the years, but the extent of political partisanship has changed significantly.

One of the many highlights of the Annual Meeting was a 90-minute briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building that was organized exclusively for Corporate Voices by the White House staff. During the briefing, members of the Obama Administration shared their insights and perspectives on current and planned initiatives involving the jobs, training, education, economic and health and wellness issues of interest to our partner companies.

During the briefing, Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls and Chief of Staff to the First Lady, said, “From the start of this Administration, Corporate Voices for Working Families has been a great partner on important issues.”

Corporate Voices’ Annual Partners Meeting – with generous sponsorship provided by Baxter International, KPMG, The TJX Companies, Johnson & Johnson, Ryan and SelectPlus — was held March 20-22, at the Loews Madison Hotel, Washington, D.C.

To view all presentations from this year’s Annual Meeting, please click here.

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Domestic policy was front and center during the first State of the Union Address of President Obama’s second term. The captitolPresident spent most of his speech calling for tax and entitlement reform, spending on education and energy, gun control and immigration reform. One item of particular importance to Corporate Voices and its partner companies was the President’s call for linking education with the demands of an evolving skills-based workforce.

He highlighted the need for America to redesign its high schools to improve the link between education and the skills employers are looking for. After noting that German students graduate from high  school with the equivalent of a technical degree from a U.S. community college, the President praised the work CorporatIBMe Voices’ partner company IBM is doing through its Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH). P-TECH is a grade 9 through 14 school that produces students with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in technology.  The curriculum was developed in close collaboration with the New York public schools, the City University of New York and IBM, to provide students with the skills required for entry-level positions at IBM.

Calling on others to follow suit, President Obama promised the Department of Education will create incentives for schools that form new partnerships with colleges or employers, or develop science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes geared toward high-tech jobs. Corporate Voices is already highlighting many of these partnerships and success stories through its Learn and Earn initiative and its work with Year Up in the New Options Project.

The 113th Congress will soon begin to sort through issues such as reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Corporate Voices is well positioned to offer the business case on why partnerships such as P-TECH succeed and are necessary for helping to ensure our nation’s young adults are prepared with the skills needed in the 21st-century workforce. In collaboration with Year Up, Corporate Voices has already distributed a list of its policy priorities for the 113th Congress.

If you are a Corporate Voices member company and want to lend your voice to shaping education and workforce policy by joining the Corporate Voices Public Policy Task Force, please contact Nathan Constable (nconstable@corporatevoices.org). We hope to hold the first policy call in March following the 2013 Annual Partners Meeting.

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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.