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Focus on workforce reflected in federal action

August 09, 2018

In an executive order issued last month, President Trump wrote that the nation is facing a skills crisis. In response, and in order to develop “a national strategy to ensure that America’s students and workers have access to affordable, relevant, and innovative education and job training that will equip them to compete and win in the global economy,” the president established a National Council for the American Worker. That focus on skills and the future workforce was also present in two recent reports (one from the National Skills Coalition and the other from an independent task force of the Council on Foreign Relations [CFR]) urging action on the topic.

The new National Council for the American Worker established by the president is intended to prepare Americans for the 21st century economy and the emerging industries of the future. The executive order states the need for an environment of lifelong learning and skills-based training and the council is to develop recommendations on strategy and policy related to the American workforce. It is also tasked with examining how Congress and the executive branch can work with private employers, educational institutions, labor unions, non-profit organizations and others to implement the recommendations from the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion from June of last year.

The urgency for examining and reassessing the way education and the workforce are intertwined is also reflected in a recent report, The Work Ahead: Machines, Skills, and U.S. Leadership in the Twenty-First Century, from the CFR task force. The report focuses on how to rebuild the links among work, opportunity and economic security “for all Americans in the face of accelerating change,” and notes that the U.S. needs to find new ways to meet workforce challenges.

Recommendations outlined in the report are broken down for the federal government, state and local governments, and the private sectors. Recommendations from the report include urging state and local governments to work closely with large employers and educational institutions on skills-pipeline initiatives, including expansion of apprenticeships and other work-study experiences, which are also reflected in the president’s executive order.

Focusing on sector partnerships between community colleges and businesses is a way to connect more individuals with the skills they need to succeed in the labor market and help the economy thrive, according to a new report from the National Skills Coalition, a broad-based coalition working to raise the skills of America’s workers across a range of industries. In it the Coalition calls on Congress to consider increasing the federal investment in sector partnerships and consider supplementing targeted grants for industry partnerships with other policy initiatives.

workforce, white house, policy recommendations