Collaboration Common Employability Skills National Credentials

Business, Industry Groups Advance Efforts to Close the “Skills Gap”

Organizations Share Plans to Educate and Train More Workers for the Jobs of Today and Tomorrow

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 20, 2014) — More than 20 business and industry organizations met today to share plans to ensure workers have the knowledge and skills they need to work in the modern economy. Convened by ACT Foundation and Business Roundtable, the National Network of Business and Industry Associations is coordinating cross-sector efforts to close the “skills gap.”

“Business, educators and job trainers must align their efforts to make sure workers have the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said John Engler, president of Business Roundtable, an operational partner of the National Network. “Everyone here today agrees that it is no longer enough to describe and quantify the gap. It is time to get to work to close it for good.”

U.S. employers are finding it increasingly difficult to find skilled candidates to fill open jobs, creating the “skills gap.” A June 2013 report by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce projected that 2.6 million jobs in science, technology, engineering and math will need to be filled between 2010 and 2020, for example.

The National Network represents major business sectors and is funded through a collaborative partnership of ACT Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Joyce Foundation and Lumina Foundation. Members include leaders in the manufacturing, retail, healthcare, energy, construction, hospitality, transportation and information technology sectors. They represent the source of nearly 75 percent of projected U.S. job growth through 2020 (an estimated 30 million new jobs).

At today’s meeting, members discussed efforts to:

  • Create a blueprint of the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies required for career success in core business sectors;
  • Define the standards for national credentials that validate those skills; and
  • Identify successful models that integrate industry-recognized credentials into secondary and postsecondary education.

“It is encouraging to see the business community unify across industry and sector lines to produce actionable solutions to close the ‘skills gap,’ especially with the power of the Business Roundtable behind them,” commented Parminder K. Jassal, founding executive director, ACT Foundation, which co-operates the National Network.

“The National Network establishes a more effective, coordinated approach to understanding the skills and competencies sought by employers to help close the ‘skills gap,’ said Ellen S. Alberding, president, Joyce Foundation. “And, it will help ensure that job seekers are armed with the knowledge and certification that will improve their chances of succeeding in today’s workforce.”

“We applaud this effort to provide a framework for defining the skills and competencies needed to obtain and retain a host of jobs, and integrating skills certifications into programs of education in high schools, community colleges and four-year institutions,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO, Lumina Foundation.

Inaugural Members of the National Network of Business and Industry Associations

  • Aerospace Industries Association
  • American Health Information Management Association
  • American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute
  • American Land Title Association and ALTA’s Land Title Institute
  • American Moving and Storage Association
  • American Public Transportation Association
  • American Welding Society
  • Center for Energy Workforce Development
  • CompTIA
  • Home Builders Institute
  • Interstate Renewable Energy Council
  • The Manufacturing Institute
  • National Apartment Association Education Institute
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research
  • National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence
  • National Institute for Metalworking Skills
  • National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
  • National Retail Federation Foundation
  • Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute
  • TechAmerica/TechAmerica Foundation
  • Western Association of Food Chains