The Foundation's Approach to Career Readiness

April 25, 2017

With graduation season just around the corner, millions of young adults across the country will leave their classrooms hoping that the knowledge they’ve gained will be enough to launch a career. At the same time, employers are revving their HR engines and getting ready to post their spring jobs to hunt for fresh, young talent. With over 5 million jobs sitting open in the United States today, you might assume this matching process for employers and young adults would be a relatively simple process. Unfortunately, you would be wrong.

We know from our nation’s widening skills gap that employers just aren’t finding talent with the skills and competencies they need. We also know that young adults in the United States continue to experience above-average unemployment and underemployment levels. The skills gap is costing employers an estimated $23,000 a year per unfilled position. To make matters worse, while 96% of chief academic officers believe they are preparing career ready students, only 11% of business leaders strongly agree that college graduates have the skills to succeed in the workplace.  Further, 54% of high school juniors and seniors report that they lack the proper supports to help them match their interests to potential occupations, and 51% report that they aren’t advised on the steps to secure their desired career. There has to be a better way to ensure our young people are career ready.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) believes that a better way can only be realized if our employers start taking a leadership role in ensuring their communities are prioritizing career readiness. As a primer, USCCF released its premier career readiness report—Career Readiness: A Business-Led Approach for Supporting K-12 Schools. In this report, USCCF outlines four major ways employers can more strategically engage with their communities to help ensure the next generation of workers leaves the classroom ready to succeed in a career. This week, USCCF  introduced a video to drive home the paper’s major takeaways:

1.     Chambers of commerce are uniquely positioned to help employers build and maintain relationships with young workers and to make sure that it’s a good fit for everyone.

2.     Our business community can also offer students meaningful opportunities to apply classroom knowledge in a real workplace.

3.     We need to ensure all high school grads are ready for success, whatever path they choose. States can do their part by prioritizing college and career readiness when measuring the success of their schools.

4.     A little acknowledgement never hurts! To help them stand out from their peers, the business community can recognize those students or programs that demonstrate mastery of the skills and competencies that are in demand.  An employer endorsement lets the community know that an applicant has the right stuff.

Taken together, these strategies create exciting opportunities for students while also building a prepared workforce ready for employers who desperately need workers. By following these strategies, USCCF is empowering the business community to lead the way in transforming the students of today into the innovators of tomorrow.