The Overlooked Partners That Can Build Your Talent Pipeline

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America has a skill problem. It’s not the result of inadequate educational systems letting down younger workers or a lack of aptitude among older workers, as some claim. The problem is the widespread failure of American companies to share responsibility for skill development. Many employers are simply unwilling — or unable — to invest sufficient resources, time, and energy into work-based learning and the creation of skill-rewarding career pathways that extend economic opportunity to workers on the lowest rungs of the labor market ladder. This national skills crisis becomes clearest whenever unemployment rates are low. As late as February 2020, most industries in the U.S. showed persistent signs of skills shortages. In manufacturing, for instance, there were 522,000 unfilled job openings in late 2019.1 There were similar long-standing job vacancies in many other critical industries, including financial and business services, health care, and telecommunications, with executives noting increased skills gaps in data analytics, information technology, and web design, among other areas.

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