President Trump spent much of last week drawing attention to a major problem facing our nation: the lack of properly trained workers to fill open jobs. His efforts came on the heels of government data released earlier this month showing that the number of job openings rose to a record high of 6 million in April, yet the pace of hiring slipped to a one-year low—evidence that the economy is running out of qualified people to fill vacant positions. This so-called skills gap is a drag on our entire economy, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is helping lead and coordinate the business community’s efforts to address it.
We know that businesses cannot succeed without well-trained workers ready to hit the ground running on day one of employment. But exactly how wide is the skills gap? How many businesses are impacted? A recent survey released by the Chamber—The USG & U.S. Chamber Commercial Construction Index—gives us a glimpse of how it impacts just one industry. Sixty-one percent of commercial construction firms reported difficulty finding enough properly trained workers.
The skills gap also significantly impedes small business growth, as the Chamber discovered during our recent Let’s Grow Tour. We traveled around the country asking businesses what Washington could do to better help them grow. And addressing the talent shortage was one of the most frequent requests. We were pleased to be able to say that the Chamber is already working on solutions.
The U.S. Chamber Foundation Center for Education and Workforce has been researching, building, and testing a signature workforce development initiative called Talent Pipeline Management (TPM). It empowers businesses to communicate their needs to education providers and cooperate with institutions that are doing the best job of meeting the demand for skilled labor. It’s designed to put the business community in the driver’s seat of education and workplace partnerships.
In addition, the Foundation is rolling out a localized consumer information tool called Launch My Career, which helps identify hot jobs in a state, the skills necessary for those jobs, and the programs and institutions that can offer those skills.
The Chamber applauds President Trump for his efforts to strengthen workforce training, and we stand ready to support effective federal policy solutions to close the skills gap. Through TPM, Launch My Career, and other strategic partnerships, businesses are also taking action into their own hands to support a highly trained workforce. This is critical to growing our economy.