Workforce Readiness


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.

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.

Corporate Voices is excited to announce a new plenary session for the 2013 Annual Partners Meeting. Beyond the Box is a “Ted Talk” style session where several innovative speakers will present for 15 minutes on a big idea that will transform business practice.SNHU

Paul LeBlanc, President of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), will discuss a new initiative – College for America – a low-cost, high-quality online associate degree program using a competency-based approach as opposed to a credit hour system. Individuals do not sit in classrooms, but master specific skills for particular subjects. While in the pilot phase, College for America is transforming adult-focused education with employers as key partners.

Under eight years of Dr. LeBlanc’s direction, SNHU has more than doubled in size and is the largest provider of online higher education in New England. In 2012, the university was #12 on Fast Company magazine’s “World’s Fifty Most Innovative Companies” list and was the only university included. SNHU has been recognized by the Gates Foundation as a “Beating the Odds” school for its innovative programming to increase graduation rates and productivity and has been named to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Best Colleges to Work For” list every year since the list was created.

Register online today for Corporate Voices’ 2013 Annual Partners Meeting! Hotel reservations can be made at The Madison Hotel by calling 1.800.424.8577. Mention the Corporate Voices’ room block to receive your discounted rate. If you have any further questions, please email jweber@corporatevoices.org.

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

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