Thanks, Jill. I appreciate the opportunity to participate today. Skills for America’s Future (SAF) is an employer-led policy initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program at the Aspen Institute. SAF identifies solutions in which education and training providers work together with employers to prepare individuals with the skills that will allow American businesses to be more productive, innovative and competitive.
Many employers express difficulty finding workers who possess skills necessary for open positions. Simultaneously, the country is experiencing a lack of hiring demand. While the unemployed-persons-per-job-opening ratio has trended downward since the end of the recession, there are still 3.1 unemployed persons for every job opening. These seemingly conflicting issues create challenges for the education and training institutions that are responsible for helping people develop their skills. Therefore, it is critical that skills development be largely based on local labor market information and trends in regional hiring, and with an understanding of local economic development goals.
Local education and training providers need to align their education and training offerings with the key industries in their community so that employers are confident their skill needs can be met. Skills for America’s Future will use the convening platform of the Aspen Institute to highlight effective practices, generate ideas, and propose possible solutions about how the skills building system can better support local economies and the businesses that create jobs. SAF will focus its efforts on the following two strategies:
1. Demonstrate the efficacy of employer-community college partnerships
2. Enhance the demand-driven capacity of existing workforce intermediaries