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The forces of globalization and technological change have transformed our economy in recent decades, causing many low skilled jobs to vanish and higher skilled jobs to emerge. Many Americans understandably feel left behind by these changes. But the solution is not to turn our backs on trade or technological innovation, which are net positives for our economy. The solution is to help displaced workers get the necessary training to reach the new and higher paying jobs our economy has created.
Today there are 5.6 million jobs sitting vacant 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 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.
Over the last year, the Chamber Foundation has worked with businesses and federation partners in seven communities across the country to pilot these strategies. Employers in Illinois, for example, have applied TPM toward exploring common hiring needs and creating an online tool to collect employer-demand data in real time. Kentucky is using the initiative to create a community college course to give students the critical competencies needed to enter a career in manufacturing.
To build on this success, we recently rolled out a new training program called the Talent Pipeline Management Academy (TPM Academy), supported by a $2.5 million grant from USA Funds. The TPM Academy consists of workshops to educate business leaders on talent pipeline strategies and how to implement them. We will continue to expand the program in the years ahead.
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 will help connect the millions of people without jobs to the millions of jobs without people. As a result, businesses will grow and more Americans will share in the prosperity our economy creates.