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These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Jason Tyszko of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
April 17, 2015

Employers must step up to solve skills-gap problem

Overview

According to Jason Tyszko of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, employers are not going to sit back and wait for government to solve the skills-gap problem, the number-one issue for business members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The skills gap, he says, is impacting business earnings and companies' ability to grow, with nearly 50 percent of U.S. employers struggling to fill jobs. Employers are realizing they need to step up and play a more proactive role in solving the skills-gap problem.

In a recent report, The Chamber Foundation recommends that employers develop an education and workforce strategy based on innovations in business supply-chain management. Such a strategy puts employers in the role of end-customers of talent supply chains, encourages employers to proactively organize and manage flexible and responsive "preferred-provider" networks to deliver education and training, and encourages employers to align performance-based measures and incentives to reward good performance among the preferred providers.

Tyszko cites examples of educational institutions learning to be more responsive to employers, companies becoming more proactive in dealing with the skills gap and a state program in Kansas taking a supply-chain approach. He calls on employers to send better market signals of the skills and training they need, so education systems and economic development systems can better align with those needs. He notes that employers are already investing $600 billion in education and training of their workers. And he points out that in addition to technical skills, employers are looking for soft skills in their workers, such as the ability to think critically, to problem solve, to function in a team environment, to communicate effectively and to become self-learners.

There are major deficiencies in the performance of the education and workforce development system in the U.S., Tyszko asserts. He cites the country's low K-12 rankings compared to other industrialized countries and its high school graduation rate of only 80 percent, calling that a "leaky pipeline," where we lose a significant portion of the talent pool early on.

For the complete interview summary see: Tyszko interview

Response Summary:

Readers rated these statements about the topic and the points discussed during the meeting, on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

1. Topic is of value. The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Further study warranted. It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

3. Employers must change approach. Employers across the nation have such an urgent need for talent that they can no longer afford to passively accept whatever skill levels graduates of traditional education institutions might have attained.

4. Government unable to help. Moreover, government can't solve the skills-gap problem for employers.

5. Employers must be proactive. Instead, employers should regard themselves as customers or buyers of the talent produced by the education providers and proactively intervene to influence educational goals and processes.

6. Advisory boards insufficient. A traditional approach, with employers sitting as members of educational institutions' advisory committees on curriculum, is inadequate.

7. Employers must make needs known. Instead, employers, preferably working collaboratively, should make abundantly clear to educational institutions the specific industry-recognized credentials and training they want in the people they hire.

8. Preferred providers should be designated. Having made their expectations clear, employers should identify specific institutions supportive of their needs, in effect, "the preferred-providers."

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.

0%

0%

0%

67%

33%

6

2. Further study warranted.

0%

0%

0%

83%

17%

6

3. Employers must change approach.

0%

0%

0%

50%

50%

6

4. Government unable to help.

0%

17%

33%

33%

17%

6

5. Employers must be proactive.

0%

0%

0%

50%

50%

6

6. Advisory boards insufficient.

0%

0%

33%

50%

17%

6

7. Employers must make needs known.

0%

0%

0%

17%

83%

6

8. Preferred providers should be designated.

0%

0%

0%

50%

50%

6

Individual Responses:

Kevin Edberg (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (2.5) (7.5) (5) (10) (7.5)

3. Employers must change approach. Agreed. Employers need to communicate clearly what they need and [their] standards, and they must reward those who meet them. Clear research from entities such as MIT make clear that employers are actively seeking to get what they want without increasing wages. The notable upward stickiness of wages in the face of increasing revenues and profits suggest that employers have been actively perpetuating their problem by failing to use market mechanisms to solve their problems: if there are labor shortages at existing price of labor, then increase the price of labor. "The skills gap disappears when wages increase".

5. Employers must be proactive. Again, there is a distinction between providing the information and clear signals that reward employees that meet employers' needs (an appropriate form of intervention in the marketplace), and a corporate take-over of public institutions (which is another form of "proactive intervention", and which undermines democratic civil society).

7. Employers must make needs known. A market cannot work in the absence of clear market information and signals. The most critical of those signals is price (wage).

8. Preferred providers should be designated. If the discussion is [about] "finding willing partners" (public or private), then [this is] agreed and worth exploring.

Scott Halstead (10) (10) (10) (5) (10) (5) (10) (10)

5. Employers must be proactive. Employers need to negotiate their education needs when they are selecting new locations or expanding.

The high cost of education when measured with the results should result in bipartisan legislative action in Minnesota. We need to fix what we have before establishing new programs.

Dennis Siemer (10) (7.5) (10) (5) (10) (10) (10) (10)

4. Government unable to help. They are trying to shore up a dilapidated system of publicly funded education rather than forcing it to change. They could do more, but need input like this to show the urgency of the problem.

6. Advisory boards insufficient. I've served on many of these advisory committees in the past. A few of them have worked very well, but most of them have been places where the school made presentations for rubber stamp approval in return for coffee and donuts.

8. Preferred providers should be designated. You might find this interesting: http://chronicle.com/article/A-Tech-School-With-No-Degrees/230035/

Tom Spitznagle (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (10)

It appears as if most current traditional postsecondary educational institutions are too inefficient and too expensive for the liking of both business and students. Nobody is challenging them so they just continue on as always. It's definitely time to consider new models for education.

Nancy Jost (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na)

They need to start thinking about this as an early childhood issue. Waiting until adolescence or adulthood is expensive and less successful.

Paul Hauge (9) (9) (9) (8) (9) (8) (8) (8)

Chuck Lutz (8) (8) (9) (9) (9) (8) (10) (9)

To receive these interview summaries as they occur, email civiccaucus@comcast.net         Follow us on Twitter

 

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman

 

 

 


The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.
 

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