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.

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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.

Corporate partners will have the opportunity to dialogue with Michael Dimock, Associate Director of Research at the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, on the future of policy and politics in Washington, DC.

Dr. Dimock is principally responsible for the development of the center’s research projects, including questionnaire design, project management, the analysis of polling data, and the presentation of survey results. He also plays a central role in writing reports, and providing information to news organizations and others interested in polling and data analysis.

Corporate Voices is excited to provide this outstanding opportunity for our corporate partners to discuss the future trajectory of the federal government following the fiscal cliff deliberations.

The Annual Meeting, themed Corporate Leadership Beyond the Workplace, is being held March 20-22, 2013 in Washington, DC. Register online today! 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

The nation’s official poverty rate held steady last year, according to annual figures released this morning by the U.S. Census Bureau. And that was greeted as good news by many analysts, who had predicted yet another year of increases in the number of poor Americans suffering the lagging effects of the last recession.

The bureau reported that 15 percent of all Americans lived below the poverty line in 2011—down a fraction from 15.1 percent the year before. That translates to 46.2 million Americans living in poverty—defined as $23,021 a year for a family of four. Among U.S. children, some 16 million—nearly 22 percent—were poor.  And more than a quarter of black and Hispanic Americans remained poor, despite modest improvements in Hispanic poverty rates.

Reflecting the weak economy, median household income edged downward, by 1.5 percent, to $50,054.  After adjusting for inflation, the typical family was earning less last year than it did in the mid-1990s.  And the longstanding trend in income disparities continued, with the “income gap” between the lowest- and highest-earning Americans wider than ever.

In a bit of good news, the government reported that the number of Americans covered by health insurance rose modestly—a result of increases in Medicare and Medicaid, along with employer-provided health insurance, which did not drop last year for the first time in a decade. The improvement also reflects the early impact of the national health reform law, which allows young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.

At Corporate Voices, these findings are an important reminder that employers can play a very real and valuable role in improving the lives of working families. We offer a range of free toolkits and other resources to help you help your employees. By educating workers about tax credits and other benefits they have earned and supporting low-wage workers in managing their work-life balance, employers can help lower-income workers retain more of their paycheck and improve their economic stability.