Education and Workforce Business Roundtable Releases Workforce Development Policy Recommendations

Jul 20, 2022

Washington – Business Roundtable today released a suite of federal policy recommendations to modernize the workforce development system to ensure a stronger return on investment and tackle the critical challenges facing workers and employers. Read the full suite of recommendations here.

To preserve America’s global economic leadership, the United States needs a world-class, modern workforce development system that fosters productivity and innovation and helps workers navigate a rapidly changing economy.  

As the United States enters a challenging new economic period—amid job openings, technological advancements, tougher competition from abroad and lingering effects from the pandemic—Business Roundtable urges Congress to reform existing programs into a modern, effective workforce development system to grow and sustain a skilled workforce.

The Business Roundtable workforce policy recommendations—developed under the leadership of Mary Barra, Chair and CEO of General Motors and Business Roundtable Chair, and Scott Kirby, CEO of United and Chair of the Business Roundtable Education and Workforce Committee—are guided by the following principles: 

  • Make reskilling and upskilling programs more accessible for workers seeking greater economic mobility. 
  • Invest in community colleges and high-quality, non-traditional training programs. 
  • Modernize the system to ensure a stronger return on investment for workers, employers and taxpayers. 

The full policy recommendations are available here and include: 

  • Promoting worker training accounts
  • Supporting training for occupations in high-demand fields
  • Investing in employer-based training models
  • Expanding Pell Grants to cover short-term programs
  • Promoting digital literacy skills
  • Expanding tax incentives leading to portable skills
  • Reforming the Federal Work-Study program
  • Providing flexibility to states, employers and workers for the use of workforce development funds  

Business Roundtable Education and Workforce Chair Scott Kirby, CEO of United, said:

“United has a longstanding history of supporting workforce development with concrete action. Most recently, we became the world’s first airline to open our own pilot training school, Aviate Academy. While United continues to make strides to invest in the future of the workforce, we also need policies that continue to position the U.S. as an economic leader.
“It is critical to work with organizations like Business Roundtable and other business leaders to urge policymakers to foster a more flexible, efficient and effective workforce development system. This is critical not only to our businesses but also the communities around us.” 

Business Roundtable companies are investing in workforce development through strong investments in worker training, apprenticeships and second chance employment, along with collective efforts such as the Business Roundtable Multiple Pathways Initiative, the Workforce Partnership Initiative and the Second Chance Business Coalition.

Background 

Close to $2 trillion was spent in 2017 alone on education and training by American educational institutions, employers, federal grantees, states and the military. Yet, U.S. businesses persistently struggle to find talent with the skills they need. 

Recent labor market dynamics illustrate the need for a modernized, high-quality workforce development system. As of July 2022, the United States is facing unprecedented job openings—over 11 million unfilled positions—with 6 million unemployed individuals currently looking for work. Nearly two positions exist for every person actively searching for a job. Another almost 6 million individuals are not in the labor force but want a job. 

Due to increased technology-based shifts in business operations accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, employers will increasingly require a workforce that is trained with more advanced technological skills. In light of these changes to the nature of work, the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that nearly 15 million Americans may need to switch to different occupations by 2030

Experts predict that high-tech industries emerging in the wake of the pandemic could create some 18 million new jobs over the next five years, or one in every six jobs by 2026. Preparing qualified workers to support these new high-tech employment opportunities can help position the U.S. workforce and economy to lead globally.