Posted by: Tom Ross | October 22, 2013

A Skilled and Prepared Workforce

Did you know that according to a Business Roundtable (BRT) survey of its members, 95 percent of CEOs indicate that their companies suffer from skills shortages? BRT is an association of chief executive officers in more than 200 leading U.S. companies who represent more than 16 million employees as well as the diverse business perspectives and voices of America’s top CEOs.


This is what BRT believes:

“A skilled, prepared workforce is the cornerstone of economic competitiveness.”

“A nation’s capacity to develop a skilled, prepared workforce is inextricably linked to the quality of its education system.”

“We believe that building America’s capacity to effectively develop “homegrown” talent is one of the most important challenges of our time, [and] that achieving larger, faster improvements in U.S. education and talent development is not only possible, but also urgent and imperative.”

For their new report, Taking Action on Education and Workforce Preparedness,” BRT spoke with “more than 30 recognized experts in the fields of education and workforce development regarding what policymakers, business executives, school administrators, teachers, parents and other key stakeholders can do to ensure that all Americans are ready to work and prepared to succeed.”

Using these unique perspectives as well as those of member CEOs, Business Roundtable identified and expands extensively upon five priorities for building a skilled and prepared workforce:

  • Fully adopt and implement the Common Core State Standards;
  • Encourage students to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields;
  • Develop more effective teachers;
  • Expand access to high-quality early learning programs; and
  • Ensure that postsecondary education and workforce training programs align with employer needs.

Why finds that “the report offers a wide range of policy solutions for each of these priorities and includes recommendations for the CTE community. For instance, the report is supportive of competency-based learning models as a way for students to better demonstrate mastery of skills and knowledge. It also promotes skills-based assessments, and incentives for completing credentials that are industry-recognized and valued by prospective employers.”

Eric Spiegel, President & CEO, Siemens Corporation Vice Chair, Business Roundtable Education and Workforce, put it this way: “Building skills begins with training…and until we put the burden on those who train rather than on those who need to be trained, we’ll never solve the problem threatening U.S. competitiveness today.”

BRT acknowledges that “institutions and policies can be slow to change.” They recommend incremental, short-term solutions that will move the system forward and systemic, as well as long-term solutions that will gradually transform the way in which we teach and learn.

“By driving both incremental and systemic change,” BRT concludes, “the United States can increase educational achievement, improve college and career readiness, and expand the nation’s capacity to develop the homegrown talent that it needs to compete and win in the modern global economy.”

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