One key to thriving in a competitive global economy is a properly skilled workforce that can innovate, create new products and services, and bring them to market quickly and efficiently. America remains a leader in innovation, but its workforce is falling behind. Education and workforce development systems have not kept pace with the demands of the 21st century, and we all bear the costs of this failure. American businesses spend billions of dollars each year training their employees and pour billions more into education. Despite these substantial investments, employers continue to report that too many job seekers are unqualified for modern jobs.
Considerable attention recently has been focused on the skills employees need to succeed in the workplace. However, few studies have asked employers and the workforce what they see as the key skills and competencies necessary to thrive and how these might be acquired; fewer still have asked both employers and employees to consider these topics and analyze how their responses are congruent or incongruent. Independently, the University of Phoenix and U.S. Chamber of Commerce each sought to explore these topics with new primary studies conducted among the U.S. labor force and business executives. This summary presents key findings from these studies and ties them together to paint a picture of life in the 21st century workplace and the key dynamics both workers and employers need to consider as they seek to promote excellence in the workplace.
A great divide has emerged in the United States between the education and skills of the American workforce and the needs of the nation’s employers.
2010 was a busy and productive year for ICW. We continued to grow our Business LEADs Network; convened a high-level panel of experts to discuss the midterm election results and their impact on education and workforce policy; published numerous reports on the importance of business supporting a range of issues, from early childhood education to extended learning time opportunities; and brought the documentary film Waiting for “Superman” to business audiences in a nationwide 12-city tour; among many other efforts.
In 2009, ICW embarked on an ambitious agenda. We released our second Leaders and Laggards Report Card on Educational Innovation, published a report on postsecondary access to career and technical education, and testified before Congress on improving employment and training programs in the United States.
“STEMing the Teacher Shortage Tide” addresses our nation’s need to redress the critical shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) candidates to pursue careers in these fields as well as candidates with STEM backgrounds to teach in our nation’s P-12 schools.
How many of us wish that days were 26 hours, not 24! How many of us feel overworked or underworked? How many of us feel that work simply isn’t working these days?
From the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, to the election of our nation’s first African-American president, 2008 was a historic year. The excitement generated by these activities has given way to the realities of the nation’s short- and long-term economic future.
Executive summaries of selected sessions from the 2008 ICW Summit.
All of the employers profiled in this guide are winners of Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility for 2007-2008.