Education & Workforce | Business Roundtable

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What is Business Roundtable

Business Roundtable (BRT) is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy.

As business leaders representing every sector of the economy, Business Roundtable members know that the American economy thrives when U.S. workers have the levels of education and training needed to succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow. Our country needs a world-class, skilled workforce to lead in global innovation, ensure future economic growth and drive job creation.

Unfortunately, the U.S. skills gap is real and growing. According to a Business Roundtable member survey, 94 percent of CEOs report that skills gaps are problematic for their companies. This talent gap affects all skill levels – from entry level to the highly technical.

More must be done now to strengthen the education and training pipeline serving youth and working adults so that individuals have the skills needed to be prepared to work and build sustainable career paths.

Key Stats on Education & Workforce

Last updated March 01, 2016.

Key Stats on Education & Workforce

Whether it be in the context of private enterprise or public policy, Business Roundtable CEOs believe that sound decisions must be grounded in the facts.  Our commitment to evidence-based, data-driven decision making is embodied in the Business Roundtable Data Monitors — a suite of executive-style dashboards that illustrate key data points and trends in various areas of public policy.

The Top Line: A Modest 156,000 Additional New Jobs in September

Payrolls expanded at a modest rate in September as the U.S. economy added 156,000 new jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Overall, the labor market is showing few signs of a pronounced upside or downside breakout. Wage growth accelerated, weekly hours picked up slightly, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 5 percent as more Americans entered the workforce. For more analysis, see The Top Line below or online here.

Perkins Act Letter

Business Roundtable believes passage of your legislation can play a key role toward addressing this mismatch by supporting state and local efforts to build talent pipelines that provide students and workers the skills they need to succeed in today’s workforce.

Pell Grant Letter to House Appropriations

Reinstating year-round Pell would provide that flexibility, allowing students to receive Pell throughout the entire academic year. Adopting this policy would more formally recognize that the needs of today’s low- income students are inadequately served by the current Pell Grant program.

Pell Grant Letter to Senate Appropriations

Currently, federal financial aid does too little to support students who are older, returning to school, or seeking specific skills and credentials for work. These students, who may be employing strategies such as combining work and learning, accelerating their time to degree, and/or attending school part-time and year-round, need this flexibility to more successfully persist and complete their program of study.

Administration’s ‘Blacklisting’ Rules Drive up Costs, Burdens in Federal Contracting

A new “blacklisting” rule from the Department of Labor represents yet another regulatory overreach by the executive branch, bypassing Congress to multiply paperwork and costs for federal contractors – and by extension, the U.S. taxpayer.

Improve U.S. K-12 Education

A persistent complaint by employers is that many high school and college graduates – as well as some adult workers – lack foundational skills needed in the 21st century workplace. These include, for example, analyzing complex texts, adapting to new technologies and problem solving.

Rigorous academic standards in K-12 English language arts and mathematics are critical to ensuring all students graduate from high school ready for college and the workforce. Business Roundtable supports the full adoption and implementation of high-quality education standards and aligned assessments to raise the performance of U.S. students. Business Roundtable also supports policies and programs that ensure all students read on grade level by the end of third grade.

Align Individual Skills with Employer Needs

Businesses increasingly have difficulty finding employees with the knowledge and training required to meet their workforce needs. This includes both technical skills – such as aptitude in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – and applied skills – such as leadership, problem-solving and communications abilities. This misalignment of skills exacerbates unemployment and stifles economic growth.

Business Roundtable believes a multifaceted solution, involving public and private players, is needed to address this skills mismatch problem. As a start, employers must send a clear, direct “demand signal” of the foundational attributes employees must demonstrate to succeed in the workplace; industry needs to sort out the large and chaotic world of industry credentials; state workforce boards and educational and training centers must understand job needs in each region and focus on helping students acquire the skills needed to fill those jobs; and human resources practices must improve across industry to identify competencies gained through valid credential programs and relevant experience.

Key Federal Legislation

Business Roundtable will continue to advocate for federal legislation that authorizes programs and policies that improve educational outcomes and help close the skills gap, including reauthorization of America COMPETES, the Carl D. Perkins Act and the Higher Education Act.

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Committee Priorities

Improve U.S. K-12 Education

A persistent complaint by employers is that many high school and college graduates – as well as some adult workers – lack foundational skills needed in the 21st century workplace. These include, for example, analyzing complex texts, adapting to new technologies and problem solving.

Rigorous academic standards in K-12 English language arts and mathematics are critical to ensuring all students graduate from high school ready for college and the workforce. Business Roundtable supports the full adoption and implementation of high-quality education standards and aligned assessments to raise the performance of U.S. students. Business Roundtable also supports policies and programs that ensure all students read on grade level by the end of third grade.

Align Individual Skills with Employer Needs

Businesses increasingly have difficulty finding employees with the knowledge and training required to meet their workforce needs. This includes both technical skills – such as aptitude in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – and applied skills – such as leadership, problem-solving and communications abilities. This misalignment of skills exacerbates unemployment and stifles economic growth.

Business Roundtable believes a multifaceted solution, involving public and private players, is needed to address this skills mismatch problem. As a start, employers must send a clear, direct “demand signal” of the foundational attributes employees must demonstrate to succeed in the workplace; industry needs to sort out the large and chaotic world of industry credentials; state workforce boards and educational and training centers must understand job needs in each region and focus on helping students acquire the skills needed to fill those jobs; and human resources practices must improve across industry to identify competencies gained through valid credential programs and relevant experience.

Key Federal Legislation

Business Roundtable will continue to advocate for federal legislation that authorizes programs and policies that improve educational outcomes and help close the skills gap, including reauthorization of America COMPETES, the Carl D. Perkins Act and the Higher Education Act.