Magazine article Talent Development

What Can Be Done about the U.S. Talent Crisis?

Magazine article Talent Development

What Can Be Done about the U.S. Talent Crisis?

Article excerpt

Talent creation is needed now. One strategy to achieve this is repairing the broken link between education and employment.

As the U.S. labor economy continues its massive transformation of jobs and careers, a White House initiative led by Vice President Joe Biden is seeking ways to better match the skills of Americans with jobs that need filling today. As part of this initiative, a June 2014 event called The Future of Workforce Development was organized by Third Way, a Washington think tank.

During this event, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez led a panel discussion of trainers, educators, entrepreneurs, and administrators from a wide variety of backgrounds and areas of the nation. Although some economists still contest that a jobs-skills disconnect exists, none of the panelists and government representatives doubted its reality.

Broken education-employment link

According to the Third Way report The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Workforce Programs, "to succeed, workforce development providers must work hand-in-glove with local businesses to ensure that their students gain skills that employers want." The business community shares culpability for this problem because "companies have cut their internal training budgets while demanding more skilled performance from their employees."

The discussion's aim during the Third Way event was to elicit replicable, scalable training programs to help fill vacant jobs across America's diverse geographic regions. The panelists' contributions are summarized in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Workforce Programs. According to the report, the seven habits that are needed to re-establish this broken link between education and employment are:

* actively engage local businesses

* use labor market data to drive decisions

* treat education like a job

* connect people to careers

* provide wraparound student services

* tap innovative funding sources

* embrace evaluation.

The panelists discussed programs that have proved effective in implementing these habits in varied U.S. communities. They included career education and information throughout a student's school years, career academy high schools, partnerships between businesses and community and technical colleges, early college high school programs, expansion of apprenticeship and internship education, and customization of adult training and education programs. Specific examples follow.

Lake Area Technical Institute in Brookings, South Dakota, has developed multifaceted programs with the local business community to ensure its degree programs are meeting current and developing employer needs.

Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/ BIG STEP in Milwaukee provides training for careers in the construction and manufacturing industries. Its members include contractors, apprenticeship programs, trade associations, and unions that can request specific training

services from this nonprofit.

Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn, New York, is providing a model for similar STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) academies in other cities. Developed by IBM in partnership with New York City public schools and the City University of New York, its students can earn a high school diploma and an associate's degree in an IT area in six years or less.

Ready to Work, a subsequent report issued by Biden, advocates giving government agencies more flexibility in collaborating with businesses or organizations on training, education, internship, and apprentice programs that promote talent creation. Further, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama on July 22, 2014, provides greater scope for the expansion of public-private partnerships.

By the numbers

A 2014 Manpower survey found that 40 percent of U. …

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