Recommendations > Recommendation Detail

The Challenge: Too Few U.S. Workers Have the Skills Needed in Today’s Economy

In the 21st century global marketplace, a nation’s economy can only be as strong as the skills of its people. While the U.S. has traditionally enjoyed a competitive advantage thanks to the productivity of its overall workforce, a growing mismatch has emerged in key sectors between worker preparation and business needs.

  • The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the U.S. could be short as many as 1.5 million college graduates by 2020. This could mean losing our current lead in areas that give us an edge in business and engineering innovation.
  • As baby-boomer retirements, U.S. manufacturing faces a deficit of skilled workers, ranging from university-educated aerospace engineers to community college-trained precision machinists.
  • We have a persistent unmet demand of 400,000-500,000 jobs openings in the healthcare industry, a higher rate than in other service industries, many of which could be filled by training workers in community colleges.

What the skills gap really means is that even in the current jobs crisis, jobs are going unfilled today partly because employers can’t find workers with the appropriate skills.

Jobs Council Recommendation: Launch Private-Sector Led Skills Initiatives and Open Shores to High-Skilled Immigrants

The Jobs Council believes there is an urgent near-term agenda on talent that can help ease today’s jobs woes, and a broader long-term talent agenda to renew America’s competitiveness. In this report, the Jobs Council focuses on progress already being made in the near-term through private-sector led initiatives, and calls on Congress to open our shores to high-skilled immigrants who help build businesses that fuel growth and jobs.

Advanced Manufacturing Training in Minnesota

Over 80% of manufacturers cannot find people to fill their skilled production jobs. As a result, there are over half-a-million manufacturing jobs open right now. Responding to this talent crisis, and the need to create jobs in this country, the Jobs Council worked with the Manufacturing Institute to tailor their national manufacturing certification system into a nationally replicable fast-track solution. This accelerated program allows individuals to earn both national industry certifications and college credit in 16 weeks, preparing them for immediate employment in high-quality manufacturing jobs.

Healthcare Workforce Training in New York and California

Nationally, there are roughly half a million job vacancies in healthcare, a 33% higher rate than in other service industries. To maximize this opportunity, the Jobs Council asked stakeholders in New York and California to develop national models for accelerated training and placement of healthcare workers into available jobs. Both initiatives will serve as national models for how states across the country can address their healthcare workforce training needs.

10,000 Engineers

American engineers drive innovations that improve our quality of life, lift our standard of living and boost our competitiveness. But in recent decades we’ve lost our edge when it comes to producing top engineering talent. In response, the Jobs Council is launching a private sector initiative to yield 10,000 more engineering graduates in the United States each year.

High-Skilled Immigration

At a time when growth is sluggish and jobs are scarce—and in an era in which brains are the only sure source of lasting competitive advantage—it’s wrong that America pushes talented immigrants away. The Jobs Council recommends fully subscribing and radically expanding the EB-5 “entrepreneur’s visa” for immigrant entrepreneurs. In addition, the Jobs Council urges policymakers not to let high-skilled immigration reform remain attached to the controversies that surround “comprehensive” immigration reform more broadly.