Magazine article Techniques

2012 National Leadership Forum

Magazine article Techniques

2012 National Leadership Forum

Article excerpt

Two key themes emerged from the 2012 National Leadership Forum: Taking Business to School, which was hosted by the Career and Technical Education Foundation at the end of May. The first was that employers are looking for a workforce that is technologically savvy while having leadership and employability skills. The second is that the business community needs to be more proactive about working with education and explaining the opportunities that exist within their respective industries. This point was driven home when Jane Oates, assistant secretary of Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of' Labor, said, "Nothing is more disturbing than a young person wanting to go into a career, but they don't know what is expected."

In order to understand those expectations, however, business needs to step Up and really share what, their industries are like and what employment opportunities exist. This fact came up during each of the three industry panels (health care, transportation and hospitality') that composed the agenda for the event.

On the health care side, Policy and Communications Director Caroline Ridgway of the Convenient Care Association said, "We need to think long term [about] what competencies are needed. We need to be proactive and collaborative. The business community must tell the education community what it needs." David Camden from Toyota echoed similar thoughts in regard to the automotive industry when he said, "We think business needs to be involved to help build the skills that are needed."

Throughout the daylong event, participants were asked to share their thoughts and ideas on ways to bring, to business and education closer together to help reduce or eliminate the skills gap that currently exists within many industries. As numerous events, papers and articles over the past year have illustrated, it will require a collaborative effort to successfully overcome this issue. U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari reiterated this point when he said, "We can't fill the skills gap alone. We need CTE programs to help train the future workforce. We are only going to be able to build [the transportation infrastructure] if we have talented, highly skilled individuals."

Time to Take Action

The (bruin was designed to identify action steps and not merely talk more about the skills gap issue. Through roundtable discussions, Q & A sessions and from the panelists themselves, 16 action steps were identified. Some are focused on the business community, while others are focused on the education community.

1. The business community needs to remember the U.S. Department of Education when advocating for its interests. While each company or industry may work with specific: federal agencies, all should advocate for appropriate and of education programs that result in career-ready employees. The federal investment in education is extremely important and the business community needs to add its voice.

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2. The business community needs to get into the schools to really let them know where specific industries are heading and what skills employees need. CTE programs are required to have advisory councils, which is the perfect place for businesses to participate. As council members, businesses can help influence CTE programs. For businesses interested in getting involved, the best place to start is in the local school district's CTE office.

3. The education community needs to understand that businesses do not always have money. The business community feels the same economic effects as the education community. And while they might not be able to help financially, they may be able to provide mentors, internships, speakers or used equipment. The education community needs to approach businesses from a partnership standpoint, not a need standpoint.

4. …

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