Closing the skills gap can be solved by applying supply chain management ideas to the talent pipeline, says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (Chamber) in a new white paper.
At an all-day event at its Washington, DC office, the Chamber called on employers to fundamentally change their relationship with education and workforce providers by taking on a much more active role – or even the lead – to ensure a steady flow of qualified workers.
During a panel of employers, VarCOM President and Founder Danny Vargas had clear messages for companies – “show up or shut up” – and education/workforce providers – “adapt or die.”
Those two messages carried through the day as stakeholders from K-12, postsecondary, workforce providers and employers discussed the challenges of aligning needs and balancing priorities while also highlight successes across the country.
During the keynote address, Harvard Business School’s Joseph Fuller reminded the attendees not to expect immediate changes, because “30 years got us here … this won’t be solved in 30 days.” Citing the theory of collective action, Fuller said such comprehensive change must be institutionalized for it to work and none of it will be easy.
Much of the day’s discussion focused on how workforce training and postsecondary programs can work with local and regional employers on pipeline problems. However, one panel, featuring Georgia State School Superintendent John Barge, discussed how K-12 fits into the talent pipeline.
Barge said the K-12 system in Georgia is responding to these pipeline issues by adapting programs and ways of teaching. Georgia recently required all 9th grade students to choose a career pathway when entering high school. It’s never too early to expose students to career options, Barge said. In Georgia, this starts as early as elementary school and continues through high school to help students make informed choices about the post-graduation options.
“There is tremendous value of being exposed to what is out there before you get there,” Barge said.
Related: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has released a new country report looking at job creation and local economic development. Here is the full report, along with a section on each country. Of particular interest would be the chapter on the United States.
Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate