Employer-led Effort to Close Skills Gap Gets Big Boost


A new business academy will help employers and educators develop strategies to build a qualified workforce.

Efforts to bridge the nation’s skills gap through employer-led solutions got a big boost on March 23, with the awarding of a $2.5 million grant to fund an expanded Talent Pipeline Management initiative.

The grant from USA Funds solidifies its partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce, which has worked on this issue since 2014.

At a national conference with stakeholders from around the country, officials from both organizations touted the new effort to create an “academy” that will help employers and educators devise and carry out strategies to help build a more qualified workforce.

“This is a leadership gap, and we think the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can contribute toward a solution,” said Jason Tyszko, executive director with the Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce. “Through an academy model, we can be bigger, we can be better, and we can move faster.”

Let’s take a numerical look at the skills gap problem, and the plans for an expanded Talent Pipeline Management initiative and academy.

The Problem

92 – Percentage of executives who believe there is a skills gap.

49 – Percentage of employers who say they are unable to fill many positions.

5.5 million – The number of unfilled jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

50 – Percent of college graduates who are unemployed or underemployed.

98 – Percent of college provosts who believe they are preparing students for the workforce.

“Educators and employers go to a lot of meetings together,” said Carol D’Amico, executive vice president of national engagement and philanthropy for USA Funds. “There’s not a shortage of breakfasts and lunches, but somehow the conversation isn’t real or genuine, and doesn’t impact the perception gap.”

The Solution

2.5 million – In dollars, the size of grant from USA Funds to continue partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on its Talent Pipeline Management initiative.

7 – The number of state and regional partners in the TPM project since 2014. They include: Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Elevate Virginia, Kansas Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, Greater Houston Partnership, Impact Northern Kentucky, Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium, and Vermillion Advantage Illinois.

72 – The number of employers impacted through 2015.

“What they brought was something unique,” Tyszko said. “This was not just another example of bringing people around a table or throw stones. This was about solving problems, and addressing the talent shortage as a business need.”

The Future

40 – The number of partners expected by 2017, after the launch of the new Talent Pipeline Management Academy.

1,000 – The expected number of employers impacted by 2017.

300 – The projected number of partners by 2020.

7,500 – The projected number of employers impacted by 2020.

“That’s the kind of scale we’re talking about with this movement,” Tyszko said.


Tim Lemke is digital content manager for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation