ICYMI: First Lady Jill Biden, Reps. Foxx and Scott Join Business Roundtable CEO Workforce Forum

March 14, 2024

Last week, Business Roundtable hosted a CEO Workforce Forum focused on “Building America’s Ever-Ready Workforce.” Roundtable CEOs, policymakers and thought leaders explored how public policies and private sector initiatives help ensure workers have the skills they need to thrive and adapt in a rapidly-changing economy. 

First Lady Jill Biden delivered a keynote address on career-connected learning programs in high schools, emphasizing their pivotal role in shaping the future of workforce readiness.

First Lady Jill Biden:

“I’m grateful to Chuck Robbins and the Business Roundtable for inviting me to join this event. When this group puts its mind to something, it’s really powerful. … There are countless high school students … across this country who are smart and ambitious and hardworking, but who just need guidance, who just need a program to show them, you know the career paths that are available. We want to help your business connect with those students by building career pathways.”

On Modernizing America’s Workforce Development System:

Rep. Virginia Foxx, (NC-05), Chairwoman, U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee: 

“We need to make sure that what we’re doing at the federal level with the programs is that we really buttress what other business and industry [are] doing. … We want industry to be in charge of what’s going on in these programs. We want to make sure that we’re doing upskilling also in the program. So, it’s not just people coming into the workforce, but it’s people in the workforce whose jobs might be going away because of the radical changes that are occurring in the job market.”

Rep. Bobby Scott, (VA-03), Ranking Member, U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee:

“The short-term Pell [bill] would just revolutionize job training because all of these … programs right now, on Pell Grants, you only use them for courses, essentially that lead to essentially a college degree. … I think we're curing that little anomaly to make sure that if it in fact will lead to a good job that you are able to afford it with a Pell Grant. … We found that a lot of the money that we spent under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act didn’t go to actual training. We required a substantially much higher portion of the money to go to actual training. … We have accountability so that if you are on the list of providers … that you’re actually providing a quality program … so that the job training actually goes where it's needed. Also involving more employer input to make sure the training is going on for the jobs that exist.”

Discussions during the CEO Workforce Forum reinforced the need for legislation to reform America’s workforce development system. Congressional passage of the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act and A Stronger Workforce for America Act would help build the ever-ready workforce the U.S. needs and increase economic opportunity for more Americans.

To learn more about Business Roundtable’s workforce development policy priorities, click here. For more on Roundtable member companies’ efforts to build an ever-ready workforce, click here.