Getting Ahead – Staying Ahead
A report from the Business Roundtable on helping Americans obtain the knowledge and skills they need to compete and succeed in the global economy.
Business Roundtable created The Springboard Project to examine the current and future needs of America’s workforce to remain competitive in a global economy. The 26 members of this project have leadership roles in education or business. Bill Green, chairman of the Springboard Project, states “Education is our top national priority–and government, business, family, and individual priorities need to reflect that. Nothing short of our future and way of life is at stake.” They found 61percent of employers report they cannot find skilled workers. A survey of workers found 81 percent would be willing to participate in additional education or training outside the workplace. There are obstacles to be addressed for that to happen but there is a willingness to change. The Springboard Project recommends six goals to ensure a workforce that can be successful in a global economy. The first three will improve our current system and need to be addressed soon. The last three are long term goals and will grow from implementation of the first three.
- Create incentives to build a better educated and trained workforce.
- Develop nationally recognized workforce certifications and credentials.
- Communicate timely and consumer friendly information to workers.
- Bring 21st century innovation to education and training.
- Emphasize the value of community colleges and two year institutions.
- Foster lifelong learning.
This resource is extremely valuable as a tool for adult and workforce education programs. It not only can inform instructors of the importance of improving the workforce development system but also encourage businesses and business consortia (e.g., Chambers of Commerce, Workforce Improvement Boards) to work with educational agencies in improving workforce training and development. This resource explores the knowledge and skills workers need to compete and succeed and makes recommendations that would encourage relevant skill development, create a culture of lifelong learning, and facilitate capacity to adapt to changing labor markets. The message to educators is to stay informed about industry trends and job outlooks so that education programs are better matched to the needs of learners as they prepare for work.
The section of the report titled “Ten Facts and Trends Highlight the Challenge” is particularly of interest. It emphasizes the growing skills gap between what workers have and what employers need, widening unemployment gap by education attainment and the challenges to the U.S. economy due to educational attainment trends in the U.S. compared to other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
The report is very readable and well organized. The main part of the resource is organized into six goals followed by the Business Roundtable’s recommendations following each goal. Examples of implementation are also given. Part 3 provides an Action Agenda and Appendix A presents the Business Roundtable’s commitments. The footnotes provide a comprehensive list of research reports that provide supporting data for the recommendations.
Methods the resource used to collect and analyze the data for the research: There are approximately 40 studies, surveys, and data sources cited in the Endnotes section of this report. One study in particular, “Rewarding Persistence: Effects of a Performance-Based Scholarship Program for Low-Income Parents,” January 2009:1-28www.mdrc.org/publications/507/full.pdf is of interest.
The theoretical base is from economics and employment studies. The many research studies cited, especially those from the U.S. government, provide the theoretical grounding in the resource. An example is: Unites States Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Current Population Survey (CPS) Labor Force Statistics: Civilian Labor Force 25 and Over, 2009,” Not seasonally adjusted data, 4 December 2009. www.bls.gov/cps
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