U.S. Chamber Foundation Explores Expanded Employer Leadership in Career Development for Youth

August 24, 2016

Donohue to Boy Scouts: We’re helping businesses understand how hiring young talent can support their long-term growth goals

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation today released a new report exploring new forms of business supports that can strengthen the employer voice in career development and equip schools with the tools they need to prepare youth for the world of work.

The report, titled, “Connected to Careers: Expanding Employer Leadership in Career Development,” offers an employer-led approach for helping students make the school-to-work transition.

The approach, built upon lessons learned from private sector relationship management techniques, focuses on building employer capacity to engage with K-12 schools. Just as account managers in the private sector are responsible for ensuring customer satisfaction, the report recommends that businesses, as customers, find partners that can deliver quality career development services that meet workforce needs.

The U.S. Chamber is committed to ensuring that youth are connected to experiences like job shadowing, project-based learning, and internships that give them the skills they need to thrive in the workforce. To that end, in a keynote address to the Boy Scouts Association’s 2016 Top Hands Conference in New Orleans, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue talked about tackling the skills gap by engaging businesses and civic organizations through the Boy Scouts’ “Exploring” program, which helps young people discover careers and gain hands-on work experience.

“Business is the single largest consumer of our education system. We’d be foolish not to engage in the debate and offer value where we can,” said Donohue in prepared remarks. “We are taking the ideas and innovations that have made the U.S. private sector the envy of the world and applying them to this challenge.”

According to the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s new report, the account management framework would help deliver the following services:

  • Represent the business community within schools
  • Serve as a subject matter expert on career pathways
  • Vet and match students with employers
  • Validate skills acquired during work-based learning experiences
  • Organize high-quality and diverse talent sourcing networks

This framework, when implemented effectively, would ensure that employer interests are strongly represented in career development programming while also equipping schools with the knowledge, skills, and workforce connections to support career exploration and preparation for youth.

“As our country continues to compete on a global stage, our competitive edge will largely be determined by how well we prepare young adults for the jobs of the future,” said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president for the U.S. Chamber Foundation Center for Education and Workforce. “Putting an account management strategy into place can strengthen relationships between employers and students, and most importantly, ensure that youth are armed with the information they need to make meaningful decisions about their career pathway.”

This report is the third in a series highlighting demand-driven approaches for chambers and other business associations to address youth unemployment. It is the latest work of the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s broader youth employment initiative, which is focused on closing the skills gap by providing customized tactics for the private sector to develop young talent as part of its overall business strategy.

“Today, too many of our young people wonder if the American Dream is still available to them,” said Donohue. “The skills gap and youth unemployment are national challenges, but they will be solved at the local level by business leaders and civic organizations working together.”

The full report is available online here, and Donohue’s remarks to the Boy Scouts Association’s 2016 Top Hands Conference can be found online here. For more information, please visit: www.YouthEmploymentWorks.org.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for business and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.

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