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STATE OF AMERICAN BUSINESS: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Says U.S. Could Face a “Severe Worker Shortage” Unless It Produces Better-Educated Workers

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"The Chamber has traditionally stayed out of school reform at the state and local level but with the continuing poor performance of many schools and the rise of global competitors with increasingly well educated workforces, we must get involved," said Thomas J. Donohue

While the U.S. economy is “strong and growing” and American companies and industries are profitable, capital is plentiful, and business investment is expanding, a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warns that inadequate education and training have tightened the supply of qualified workers and could jeopardize the country’s competitive edge in the global economy.

“The Chamber has traditionally stayed out of school reform at the state and local level but with the continuing poor performance of many schools and the rise of global competitors with increasingly well educated workforces, we must get involved,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The bottom line is that this nation cannot rightfully expect to lead the 21st century’s information- and technology-driven global economy when we have upwards of 30 percent of our young people not even graduating from high school.”

In the report, The State of American Business 2006, the Chamber of Commerce cautions that the job market in the 21st century will require workers with more technical skills and a greater understanding of math and science-subjects in which American students “fail to show a suitable level of competence or even interest.” In fact, less than one third of American fourth and eighth graders are proficient in math. At the same time, China and India are graduating more than 8 times and 5 times as many engineers, respectively, as the United States. Without a larger pool of qualified workers, the United States is “staring in the face of a severe worker shortage as 77 million baby boomers retire in the next few years,” the report reads.

In an effort to successfully match companies with the geographic locations that can provide them with qualified workers, the Chamber of Commerce intends to rank students’ performance by state and county. In addition, it hopes this information can be used to drive investment and empowerment in poorly performing states and districts. Along with several other business organizations, the Chamber has also pledged to double the number of science, technology, engineering, and math graduates by 2015. Among its other education-related issues, the Chamber says it supports the No Child Left Behind’s goal of reducing the achievement gap.

Donohue’s speech and a copy of the full report are available at http://www.uschamber.com/press/speeches/2006/060104tjd_sabpress.htm.

Grant Competition to Reward School and Business Partnerships 

The Council for Corporate & School Partnerships is now accepting applications for grants that reward school-business partnerships. Now in its third year, the National School and Business Partnerships Award supports and recognizes efforts between schools and businesses to improve the academic, social, or physical well-being of students. This year, six school-business partnerships will receive $10,000 each and earn national recognition.

Each application is judged on how well the school-business partnership demonstrates success in four categories, including foundation (how the partnership was initially established); implementation (how the partners work together on an ongoing basis); sustainability (how the partners work to sustain the partnership over time); and, most importantly, evaluation (the impact the partnership has on the school and business communities). Applications that show measurable and, ideally, quantifiable results will be given the strongest consideration. Judges may also consider the uniqueness of the partnership and the value of third-party support of the partnership.

More information on how to apply is available at http://www.corpschoolpartners.org. Applications are due by January 30, 2006.

 

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