Overheard

ASU+GSV Summit 2021: Cheryl Oldham on the childcare issue and worker shortages

Leaders in business, workforce development, education, and tech share innovative ideas about what's to come
By Laura Aka
August 9, 2021

“The worker shortage is a real serious one right now,” says Cheryl Oldham, vice president of education policy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

She notes a historic number of more than 10 million job openings—a million and a half more than there are workers to fill them. Oldham says, “We’ve got to be thinking about how do we get everybody off the bench? What are barriers to employment? How do we address those?”

Among those who have dropped out of the workforce in large numbers are women. Oldham says childcare is a workforce issue that needs to be addressed and employers have a role in the solution.

The Chamber is studying, Oldham says, “What is the economic impact, both on a state economy and to the employer community, when childcare breaks down? I mean, it’s billions of dollars annually.”

“[Employers are] very interested in what can we do from a benefits perspective? It’s a retention issue. It’s a hiring issue. They want to figure out their role and how do they support their working parents.

She continues, “And for many, they want to engage in the policy discussions. Is it tax credits? Is it more subsidies? Is it government programs? Is it private sector programs? They play a major role because it is impacting their ability to grow, to take on new business. It’s a bottom line issue for them.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce describes itself as the “world’s largest business organization representing companies of all sizes across every sector of the economy.”

Click here to learn more about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

WorkingNation—a collaborating partner of the ASU+GSV Summit—sat down with Oldham in San Diego as part of our #WorkingNationOverheard social media series.

Hear from more innovators in education and tech in the public, private, and nonprofit spheres attending the ASU+GSV Summit 2021 here.

Follow the conversation on social media: #asugsvsummit #workingnationoverheard