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CEOs Say Skills Gap Threatens U.S Economic Future

Company-led Initiatives Seek to Narrow Gap in STEM Fields

Washington – The skills gap is real and is a significant problem, the CEOs of major U.S. corporations said today at an event in Washington hosted by Business Roundtable and Change the Equation. The finding is part of a survey of the memberships on U.S. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Skills, conducted earlier this year.

According to the 126 CEOs who responded, key points that emerged included:

  • Ninety-seven percent reported the skills gap is a problem;
  • Approximately 60 percent of job openings require basic STEM literacy, and 42 percent require advanced STEM skills;
  • Twenty-eight percent say that at least half of their new entry-level hires lack basic STEM literacy;
  • Sixty-two percent of CEOs report problems finding qualified applicants for jobs requiring advanced computer/IT knowledge;
  • Forty-one percent report problems finding qualified applicants for jobs requiring advanced quantitative knowledge; and
  • Over the next five years, employers will need to hire nearly 1 million employees with basic STEM literacy and more than 600,000 employees with advanced STEM knowledge.

“The skills gap is a serious challenge for America’s businesses and our entire economy,” said John Engler, President  of Business Roundtable. “If our businesses and economy are going to compete and succeed, then we must address this crisis; CEOs are speaking out on the issue, pursuing solutions in their own companies and urging that America develop a national strategy to prepare our workers for these STEM jobs.”

“STEM skills are critical, not only for today’s jobs, but will be essential to tomorrow’s opportunities as well,” said Linda P. Rosen, CEO of Change the Equation. “CEOs know that ensuring a STEM-literate workforce must begin with a strong K-12 pipeline.”

Jamie Dimon, Chairman & CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Eric Spiegel, President & CEO, Siemens Corporation; Rex Tillerson, Chairman & CEO, Exxon Mobil Corporation; and Maggie Wilderotter, Chairman & CEO, Frontier Communications Corporation, addressed the survey findings and what their companies are doing to broaden the STEM pool. Jerry Seib, Washington Bureau Chief for The Wall Street Journal, moderated the discussion.

This survey was conducted from Sept. 9 – Nov. 6, 2014. Overall, 126 out of 232 companies responded, including 116 of 203 Business Roundtable member CEOs (57%) and 34 of 63 Change the Equation member CEOs (54%).

For more information on Business Roundtable efforts to address the skills gap, visit:

For more information on what Change the Equation is doing, visit STEMworks to learn more about programs that are addressing the skills gap.