How can education, industry close the skills gap and fill U.S. jobs?
An unfortunate irony to emerge from our lackluster economic recovery is that even as millions of Americans remain unemployed or underemployed, too many employers are unable to find qualified candidates for open positions.
Shortcomings in our education and workforce development systems continue to widen the skills gap. Left unchanged, the supply of skilled workers will dwindle — leaving some 5 million jobs vacant by 2018 — and won’t keep pace with the demands of a modern economy or the needs of employers struggling to compete.
The skills gap has been pigeonholed for many years as an education issue and left to policy makers, educators and administrators to fix. But as the top consumer of our education system, the private sector has a huge stake in this challenge and can’t afford to wait for others to find a solution.
And many businesses haven’t. The essence of enterprise is solving problems and fulfilling needs, so it should surprise no one that business leaders are innovating their way out of the problem.
A number of companies and partners have pioneered a whole new approach to sourcing workers by applying the lessons of supply chains — the common-sense practice of planning ahead and establishing processes and relationships with preferred and trusted suppliers to ensure that you have what you need, when you need it. We call this talent pipeline management.
To raise the issue in the public debate, we convened a national conference on talent pipeline management in Washington, D.C., in November.
We’ll be setting up regional partnerships over the coming year to get more employers across the country educated, engaged, and equipped to better manage their human capital needs.
Through talent pipeline management, we can achieve truly demand-driven education and workforce systems to help create opportunities for individuals, ensure a steady flow of qualified workers to enable allow businesses to thrive and grow, and keep our nation on the leading edge of global competition.