Donohue Addresses the State of the American Workforce and What Business is Doing to Meet the Needs of the Modern Economy and Maintain American Competitiveness
In response to growing U.S. workforce challenges, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue outlined the two critical factors to maintaining America’s competitiveness in the modern economy: closing the skills gap and closing the people gap. Delivering the keynote address at the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s “Talent Forward” conference, Donohue addressed the “business-led” solutions the Chamber is advancing to bridge these gaps to ensure continued economic growth.
“There are not one, but two gaps preventing our nation from fully leveraging talent in our economy,” Donohue said. “The first is a skills gap – too many people lack the skills or credentials they need to compete for 21st century jobs. The second is a people gap – too many businesses can’t find the workers they need, when and where they need them. Closing both gaps is imperative to our competitiveness.”
“At this moment of rapid change and massive transition, we must put talent first. That requires us to bridge the gaps that exist between students and workers and the jobs that will provide them opportunity, security, and prosperity,” continued Donohue. “No single entity has a greater stake in the strength of our talent pool than the business community. We have the ideas, the innovations, and the incentive to drive change and create solutions.”
Donohue described how to better cultivate talent by improving our education system, strengthening training, retraining, and retention, creating clear pathways to available jobs, better equipping workers with the skills needed today, and using technology to improve the way talent is sourced and hired.
Donohue also emphasized the need for meaningful immigration reform, citing the need for compromise on everyone’s part in order to get it done. “Immigrants have long been a vital part of our economy, and they can help fill gaps in our workforce. The case for action could not be clearer. An effective immigration system will respect the rule of law, respond to the needs of our economy, and reflect our nation’s values. We should settle for nothing less,” he said.
The Chamber is advancing a business-led effort that includes:
- Advocacy for better policies at every level of government, including commonsense immigration reform and strengthening education
State and local partnerships to advance Talent Pipeline Management and other innovative solutions
- Data-driven approaches to building and sourcing talent, such as the T3 Innovation Network and Job Data Exchange
- Proactive measures by employers to drive change in their own operations
- Fostering a culture in which individuals are encouraged to be entrepreneurial and are driven to succeed
- A commitment to address social issues that prevent people from having an active role in the workforce, including veterans, older Americans, opportunity youth, former incarcerated individuals, and victims of the opioid epidemic
“We are tackling these challenges so that the American Dream remains in reach for all who are willing to work for it. And we’re urging all the stakeholders to join us and seek business-led solutions. If we work together and close these gaps, opportunity will flourish, the economy will grow, people will prosper—and our nation will remain the most innovative, competitive, and productive on earth,” Donohue said.