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Are You Finding the Right Talent?

Last summer the Chamber, along with several other employer organizations in Massachusetts, asked its members to participate in a survey on public education and workforce readiness that was a follow-up to a similar survey done in 2013. The results are in and have revealed a large majority of Massachusetts employers (75%) are having trouble finding people to fill open positions and new hires are often not prepared for the workplace. The survey was commissioned by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) with support from Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable.

Respondents found deficiencies in the readiness of new hires, not just in “applied skills” like teamwork, critical thinking and communications, but also in simple reading, writing, and math.

The survey found that business leaders understand the importance of education in addressing these workforce challenges and want the business community to get involved. Excellent teachers and developing students’ communication, problem solving and teamwork skills were identified as the top solutions on which business should focus its energy and attention.

Despite giving the schools relatively strong grades overall, three quarters think the schools need a major overhaul or moderate changes. Employers give the public schools lower marks for preparing students for work than for overall performance.
The survey will be used to develop a set of education priorities for the business community to focus on in the months and years ahead.

Meanwhile, today there are 5.6 million jobs sitting vacant (roughly 200,000 in Massachusetts) because employers can’t find workers with the skills to fill them. In fact, nearly half of all U.S. employers are struggling with talent shortages. Over the last two years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce has been researching, building, and testing a signature workforce development initiative called Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) to help solve this problem.

TPM is designed to put the business community in the driver’s seat of education and workplace partnerships. Built on the principles of supply chain management, TPM helps transform the role employers play in education and workforce training systems. It enables businesses to communicate their needs to education providers and collaborate with the institutions and programs that are doing the best job of meeting the demand for skilled labor.

The business community has a significant stake in workforce training and development. By empowering businesses to lead the way in ensuring that all Americans are prepared for the high skilled work of this century, we can help connect the millions of people without jobs to the millions of jobs without people.

On related note, Chamber Board member and Universal Technical Institute (UTI) president, Shawn Alexander, will be sharing some key findings from a new report about how workforce trends and College Scorecard data reveal the benefits of an occupation-driven approach to post-secondary education and the value of education-industry partnerships. The report's findings not only challenge long-held assumptions about college education as the only path to success, but also highlight the need to build education-industry partnerships that help students succeed and meet the needs of employers. The findings are from an analysis of the latest federal College Scorecard report done by consulting firm Wilcap LLC and the corresponding report "Preparing our Students for Career Success: What Parents Should Know". This presentation will be at the next meeting of the Chamber’s Education and Business Committee on Tuesday, December 13 at 8:30 AM at the chamber office. Please email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you would like to attend.