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

Image

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!


America needs a workforce skilled in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and a notable group of companies and organizations is uniting to ensure that the nation gets the message. This summer, June 27 – 29, thousands of education, policy and industry thought leaders will convene in Dallas, Texas, for STEM Solutions 2012, a groundbreaking leadership summit that will bring the best minds and best practices together on a national stage to open the conversation and develop solutions to the STEM skills shortage.

Among the STEM stakeholders who have signed on to the Summit is Corporate Voices for Working Families. As one of the conference’s Co-chairs, Corporate Voices will provide topical input, expertise and support throughout the planning stages, as well as during the conference.

The organizers of STEM Solutions 2012 identified Corporate Voices as a change maker involved in shaping the economy’s future. Corporate Voices is the leading national business membership organization shaping conversations and collaborations on public and corporate policy issues involving working families. Our workforce readiness portfolio reflects our conviction that employers must be active partners in preparing a robust talent pipeline of skilled workers, while helping Americans succeed in school, on the job and throughout life.

STEM Solutions SummitMore than 100 of the best minds in business, education and government will be leading three exciting days of workshops, keynotes, panels and track-specific sessions, including from Corporate Voices, Elyse Rosenblum, Sr. Workforce Readiness Consultant, and Peggy Walton, Sr. Director, Workforce Readiness. The Summit program will focus on what’s working now and what’s still needed to develop successful local, state and national action plans-plans that will accelerate the development of our nation’s STEM workforce.

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer and Global Cultural Ambassador
  • Wes Bush, Chairman, CEO and President, Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Auditi Chakravarty, VP, AP Curriculum, College Board
  • Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Dean Kamen, Founder, FIRST
  • Joel L. Klein, Executive Vice President and CEO, Education Division, News Corporation
  • Ellen Kullman, Chair of the Board and CEO, DuPont
  • Rick Stephens, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Administration at The Boeing Company

View the complete speaker lineup and conference schedule online.

This week, hundreds of participants descended on Washington, D.C. to take part in the second annual Building a Grad Nation Summit and to welcome the release of Civic Enterprises‘ 2012 Building a Grad Nation Report. Corporate Voices is honored to have taken part in this year’s Civic Marshall Plan by lending its expertise to the 2012 report as it explores the ways in which the business community can participate in ending the high school dropout crisis through the Business Case for Education section.

For more than a decade, Corporate Voices has provided leading best-practice employers a forum to improve the lives of working families while strengthening our nation’s economy. Currently, Corporate Voices is engaging the business community in advancing talent development practices, postsecondary education completion and workforce readiness training through its Learn and Earn initiative. This initiative seeks to identify, promote and encourage innovative partnerships between employers, community colleges and other higher education institutions to help today’s “working learners”-often low-skilled young adults-complete their education while working.

“Forward-looking employers recognize the value of investing today to shape the best possible workforce of tomorrow,” said Corporate Voices’ Executive Director, John Wilcox. “The work of our strategic partners at Civic Enterprises highlights that employers who embrace innovative partnerships with educational institutions can provide a new generation of workers the immeasurable value associated with higher education, a rewarding career and the skills they will need to thrive in the uncertain global economy of the future-all while serving their bottom-line business needs and earning a measurable return on their investment.”

Corporate Voices expanded upon this vision by participating in this year’s Summit alongside the Lumina Foundation and others. Executive Director and COO John Wilcox explored how postsecondary education completion is necessary to prepare all students for a global economy, and Senior Manager for Workforce Readiness, Sara Toland highlighted ways in which organizations can sustain youth initiatives in a tough economic climate.