We exist in an economy that competes on talent. Yet we have jobs without people and people without jobs. Business growth is hindered because we do not have the right talent needed to take on new business at the right time. College graduates are struggling to find jobs while overwhelmed by student loan debt. Workers who are out of a job have limited—if any—options to learn a new skill set, upgrade their skills, or reenter the workforce.
This situation will not fix itself, and employers cannot fix it alone. We need everyone—businesses, workers, government, and our nation’s education and training providers—working together to solve the challenges of our time.
As the business community, we recognize the need to act. We can ill afford to sit idly by and let an economy poised for growth stall because we do not have the most important ingredient for success: a skilled and competitive workforce. The consequences of inaction are unacceptable. America and its people deserve stronger economic growth and a more optimistic view on the American Dream.
Let’s be honest: America needs a new pathway to opportunity.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) have joined together to take action and put forward a new vision for our nation’s education, workforce, and credentialing system. This paper advances a solution building from a bold idea for improving employer leadership and investment in a wide variety of earn and learn opportunities, including high-quality internships and apprenticeships. If we are successful, we can scale new earn and learn pathways for millions of people that result in more jobs, more opportunity, and more growth.
More than a vision, this paper provides a road map for incorporating stronger earn and learn pathways into new public-private education and workforce systems. Now is the time for the business community to work in partnership with philanthropic organizations, states, and other major stakeholders to develop and pilot this new approach.
To learn more about how to join this movement, contact the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce.
Co-authored by the Manufacturing Institute.
The Manufacturing Institute is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. As a nonpartisan organization, the Institute is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation’s manufacturers. The Institute is the authority on the attraction, qualification and development of world-class manufacturing talent. www.themanufacturinginstitute.org