The Table: Closing the Skills Gap

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Employers are facing a growing skills gap that is impacting their ability to compete in today’s economy. More than 90 percent of business leaders agree there is a critical skills gap facing their industries. Half of employers have job vacancies that can’t be filled and nearly 40 percent of companies cannot take on new business available to them because they lack talent. Currently, there are nearly 6 million unfilled positions at a time when individuals across the country are struggling to find work. In other words, we have people without jobs and jobs without people.

There is widespread interest in addressing this burgeoning skills gap and how to prepare a workforce to be successful and future proof in the 21st century. This is not only a challenge for youth hoping to get an education that will provide them access to jobs, but for adults who need to update their skills to continue to be successful in an economy that is increasingly driven by innovation and disrupted by technology.

As this conversation continues in communities across the country, the business community too is taking this issue on and demonstrating how employers can advance solutions. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) is working with state and local chambers of commerce, employers, and other stakeholders to support the education and training system necessary to build the workforce of today and tomorrow. Examples of some of our recent efforts include:

  • Providing guidance to K-12 schools on how to include and measure career readiness as part of their accountability systems and support it through partnerships with the business community;
  • Working with chambers of commerce across the country on supporting youth employment strategies that provide in-school and out-of-school youth with meaningful work-based learning experiences and entry-level employment;
  • Launching new web-based tools that provide students and families with critical return-on-investment data to make well-informed choices about which colleges and programs will best help them launch their careers; and
  • Engaging employers across the country to close the skills gap by managing their talent pipeline and engaging education and workforce partners as part of their talent supply chain.

USCCF is excited to partner with WorkingNation on their most recent episode of “The Table” which features Cheryl Oldham, Senior Vice President of USCCF’s Center for Education and Workforce. We hope to provide a voice for the business community in these important discussions and to continue to explore how employers can contribute toward building a skilled and competitive workforce now and into the future.

Jason Tyszko serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Education and Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which partners with Chamber members and business leaders to preserve America’s competitiveness and improve career readiness across the country. Jason also serves on the Working Nation Advisory Board. Previously, Jason served as a policy advisor to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, where Jason chaired the interagency Job Training Working Group and helped develop the public-private STEM education strategy known as Illinois Pathways. Prior work included significant impact on Illinois public-private partnerships for economic and educational development.

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