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.


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

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

Contact: Lori Meyer                        For Immediate Release
Cell Phone: 202-215-6349

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.

For the past several years, Corporate Voices for Working Families has identified and promoted innovative Learn and Earn partnerships across the country. These partnerships between business and education providers help bridge the skills gap for employers while encouraging and supporting current and future employees’ attainment of postsecondary credentials with labor market value – the most significant benchmark for achieving economic sustainability.

Not surprisingly, employers and educators are not the only entities in the Learn and Earn conversation.  There are multiple stakeholders committed to seeing our country “Reclaim the American Dream” as expressed in the recent report by the American Association of Community Colleges, a dream that begins with adequate and appropriate skills for success.  Private and corporate foundations also play a pivotal role in goal-setting, research, replication and implementation of programs of study aimed at dramatically boosting the number of young Americans completing a postsecondary credential in the next decade or so.

Next week, at Corporate Voices’ 2012 Annual Meeting, I will moderate a panel of influential foundation leaders will share their perspective on the importance of postsecondary completion. This dialogue will focus on the broad economic and workforce implications of postsecondary completion and its importance to the business sector. Moreover, it will serve as a ‘call to action’ to a broad spectrum of employers with an important message:  Foundations have laid substantial resources on the table to research and promote programs of study that support talent development.  It is now time for more employers to ‘get in the game,’ by committing to deep partnerships in these programs as well. The discussion will feature Dr. James Applegate, Vice President of the Lumina Foundation; Ellen Glazerman, President of the Ernst & Young Foundation; and Dr. Parminder Jassal, Program Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

At the session, Corporate Voices will also release early findings from our comprehensive research on Learn and Earn best practices nationwide. The report, A Talent Development Solution: Exploring Business Drivers and Returns in Learn and Earn Partnerships, will provide employers with the practical knowledge and hands-on tools to develop partnerships of their own. Also documented will be the positive returns on investment companies can realize by investing in Learn and Earn initiatives. The benefits of successful programs redound not only to individual employees, but also to leading companies that are able to address a wide range of business imperatives by investing in the skills of their workforce.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Success Strategy also focuses on developing more postsecondary graduates to meet the needs of tomorrow’s workforce. They create and finance programs throughout the educational pipeline – from cradle to retirement.

The Lumina Foundation is the nation’s largest private foundation whose mission is to “expand access and success in education beyond high school, particularly among adults, first-generation college going students, low-income students and students of color.” Lumina recognizes that over 60 percent of tomorrow’s jobs will require at least some form of higher education.

The Ernst & Young Foundation’s main focus is to provide support to higher education institutions, particularly for people pursuing a professional services career in business.

Corporate Voices is grateful to each of these organizations for the thought leadership they have brought to the broader field of workforce development and postsecondary completion.

At a time when national leaders are looking to America’s more than 1,200 community colleges to help fuel an economic transformation, a new report from our colleagues at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) spotlights both great opportunities and serious challenges ahead.

Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future details community college “student success rates that are unacceptably low, employment preparation that is inadequately connected to job-market needs, and disconnections in transitions between high schools, community colleges, and baccalaureate institutions.” Considering the national imperative to add 20 million postsecondary educated workers over the next 15 years, these are serious indictments for higher education institutions tasked with preparing a globally competitive workforce and ones to which employers look for the next generation of talent.

Corporate Voices for Working Families commends AACC and its 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges for recommending a new vision for America’s community colleges.  Our corporate partners share the commitment to “Reclaiming the American Dream”. To be sure, U.S. employers have much at stake in the success of community colleges and the students they are educating for the workforce of tomorrow. Moreover, employers can—indeed, must—be a part of the solution, by helping to ensure that college coursework aligns with the knowledge and skills they require of their new employees, and by helping working students juggle the demands of school and their job.

As part of its “Learn and Earn” micro business case study series, Corporate Voices has documented a range of best practice talent development partnerships between businesses and education providers – frequently community colleges.  These Learn and Earn models help bridge the skills gap for employers, while encouraging and/or supporting current and future employees’ attainment of postsecondary credentials with labor market value – the most significant benchmark for achieving economic sustainability. Learn and Earn partnerships also provide real returns for these leading companies.

For example, AREVA, a global company that provides services, fuel, and engineering support to nuclear plants worldwide, partners withCentralVirginiaCommunity College on an Employee Training Program that produces graduates with an Associate Degree in Nuclear Support Technology.  These highly skilled, high-wage positions make a significant contribution to the centralVirginia regional economy, and supply a high-quality, entry-level talent pipeline to the employer in a fairly rural region.

In another Learn and Earn model, Bright Horizons Family Solutions LLC, the world’s leading provider of employer-sponsored child care, early education, and work/life solutions, created a blended e-training program to help teachers acquire a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Through the company’s partnership withNorthamptonCommunity College inPennsylvania, Bright Horizons’ 18,000 employees around the country can enroll in the college’s online associate degree program, and have 9 academic credits honored from the CDA toward an associate degree. For Bright Horizons, the program is a win-win: Not only has it increased the quality of early child care services provided at its centers, but the credential is also viewed as a major contributing factor in reducing the company’s employee turnover rate by more than 50 percent.

Education-and-business partnerships like these create a model for ways in which community colleges can meet student success targets in connection with their regional labor markets.  Corporate Voices’ publication, Business and Community College Partnerships: A Blueprint, is a tool that helps guide the formation of these partnerships.  It is available at no charge on our website.

Corporate Voices agrees with AACC President and CEO, Walter Bumphus, who acknowledges that individual colleges have demonstrated success, but said, “We haven’t done a [great] job of replicating these practices across the country.”  Corporate Voices and its employer partners stand ready to join community colleges to replicate best practices like Learn and Earn, and support this initiative to “Reclaim the American Dream.”

As communities across the country pursue plans to spend $500 million in new federal grants to build a 21st-century workforce, Corporate Voices for Working Families is being tapped for its expertise and thought leadership in the area of business-education partnerships.

At the invitation of Missouri officials, Corporate Voices’ Peggy Walton keynoted a conference this week of college executives and workforce leaders involved in one such business-education partnership.  The statewide effort, known as MoHealthWINs, is a consortium of community colleges that won $20 million in new funding to retrain residents for good jobs in health care.  The grant is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, a federal workforce program for Americans whose jobs have been adversely impacted by global trade.

Corporate Voices’ original research informs publications and tools that are available to all communities seeking innovative solutions to pressing workforce needs. We also offer services to help build deeper strategic engagement and other technical assistance. Our latest report highlights the important ways business leaders and postsecondary educators can collaborate to serve their mutual goals.  Business and Community College Partnerships: A Blueprint offers practical advice, best-practice models, and concrete action steps for business and college leaders who hope to start, sustain, or expand successful relationships. It guides the partnership-building process from two distinct points of view—for employers, and for educators—and details how close collaboration serves the bottom-line interests of both.


  • For businesses, community college partnerships can offer the single best way to build a strong “talent pipeline” of local employees with the training and skills employers need today and in the near future. Such partnerships can also help businesses retain the best workers, improve employee diversity; and enhance their reputation in the communities they serve.


  • For community colleges, collaboration with area employers supports their core mission of preparing students with the skills and credentials they’ll need to compete for good jobs in growing industries. These partnerships can also help schools meet a related and urgent national imperative: Boosting anemic completion rates.

The new Blueprint was launched at two of the premier events in the community college field in recent weeks: The League for Innovation in the Community College’s Innovations 2012 conference last week, and the American Association of Community Colleges’ Workforce Development Institute. Gerardo de los Santos, president/CEO of the League for Innovation, endorsed the Blueprint, saying, “Innovative partnerships between employers and community colleges are essential building blocks in preparing an educated and skilled workforce. This blueprint presents an outstanding pathway for this joint work.”

The Blueprint is available for download on the Corporate Voices website.

WAFCFor 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.  Many employers accomplish this by supporting the educational attainment of current and future employees.  In order to ensure that individuals have the skills to succeed in the workplace and are on education and career pathways to earning family sustaining wages, employers often partner with community colleges in Learn and Earn models of talent development.

Each week, in an effort to highlight these best practice models, Corporate Voices will spotlight a distinct Learn and Earn partnership between a business and community college. This week, we are pleased to highlight the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC).

The sole mission of WAFC, an organization representing companies in the retail and wholesale food industry, is to build education depth throughout the food industry.  Through its Retail Management Certificate Program, WAFC has partnered with more than 135 community colleges to utilize standard academic course work offered by most community colleges to create an industry recognized certificate.  As budget cuts force these community colleges to evaluate resource allocations and expenditures, their food industry partners offer onsite classroom usage within their facilities, supplementing valuable on-campus space.  Additionally, employer partners provide adjunct instructors steeped in current learning needs of the industry.

For more information on WAFC, please read the Learn and Earn micro-business case, or check Corporate Voices’ most recent tool, Business and Community College Partnerships: A Blueprint.