Anheuser-Busch Briefing Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H St NW, Washington, D.C.
Registration and Breakfast: 8:00 a.m.-8:30 a.m.
If you search for jobs on CareerBuilder, Monster, and others popular websites, you’ll see that there are hundreds of thousands of job openings across the United States. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 7.9%, meaning that there are 12.3 million unemployed persons. Since there is both a supply of jobs and a ready demand for them, what are the reasons for such high unemployment?
A 2012 Brookings study looked at various metropolitan areas to examine the unemployment rate and the share of job openings that go unfilled after one month. Here are 6 of these metro areas:
Unfilled Job Openings
Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia/South Carolina
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wisconsin
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
One of the reasons for the disparity between job openings and unemployment is the lack of skills required to be competent in such unfilled positions. Evidence of this disparity is shown across industries for low-skills jobs requiring high school diplomas all the way to high-levels positions requiring more advanced degrees.
A recent survey of human resources managers for large companies found that 42.4 percent of them rate the overall preparation of high school graduates as deficient.[i] Some of these deficiencies then limit higher education attainment especially for critical disciplines such as the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields. The Council on Competitiveness reports that the United States ranks 17th among developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving degrees in science or engineering, a fall from third place three decades ago. We rank 26th in the proportion receiving undergraduate degrees in mathematics. Europe produces three times as many engineering graduates every year as the United States, while China produces five times as many.
America’s schools and job training programs are not producing a sufficient number of people qualified to fill the jobs in highest demand now and in the years to come. Some experts predict that within a decade, 123 million high-skilled, high-paying jobs will exist, but just 50 million Americans will be qualified to take them.
In order to stay competitive, American businesses will have to play a bigger role in our educational system to modernized teaching, development, and training for a 21st century workforce environment. Depending on the nature of their industry, corporate leaders along with the human resources division will have to evaluate their human capital plan to include more robust talent development and acquisition objectives. Some of these objectives should include more strategic campus programs that include community and technical colleges. The plan should also include a more aggressive corporate leadership development programs that includes scholarships, internships, mentoring, and full-time placements to align with recruiting needs.
These are some of the opportunities to fuel creative thinking about how educational institutions and businesses can work together.
In his “Eight Factors of American Competitiveness,” NCF Scholar John Raidt reiterates that America’s workforce has a robust tradition of productivity, technological excellence, and inventiveness. Our people are richly diverse and talented—with the greatest and deepest wealth of human capital on the planet. We can do anything we put our mind to, including rebuilding the world’s best education and job training systems to ensure that our schools, curricula, and skills remain relevant to a changing economy and well-calibrated to the needs of the ever-evolving workplace. We can once again have the best educational system in the world.