WorkingNation’s Executive Committee member Jane Oates was one of the featured panelists at the ACT Workforce Summit held in Austin, Texas last November and the non-profit organization has published her blog about the lessons learned from the summit.

“During the summit, I heard many stories about vibrant partnerships—business, workforce, education, economic development—and how the people within them felt they needed to learn more so they could do more. These passionate people are itching to help their communities grow and sustain a robust workforce,” the former Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor writes.

Public-private partnerships have begun the work of transforming how people access skills training and career pathways to new jobs, but Oates says that there is more to be done to build upon this foundation in 2018 and beyond. She suggests four solutions for developing workforce skills that employers need for the jobs of today and the future.

  • Align training to skills demand.
  • Engage employers in the credential-building process.
  • Build pathways for all learners.
  • Agreement on skill assessments.

Oates writes that she was amazed by the discussions from employers, educators and policymakers who asked the “tough questions” about one of the most pressing issues today: ensuring Americans have the skills to compete in the job market and helping them overcome disruptions caused by automation and outsourcing.

Jane Oates (left) and leading experts at the ACT Workforce Summit 2017. Photo – ACT.

“We must remember and appreciate the hard work that has led us to where we are and why we do what we do. We must be honest with ourselves and with the public about the challenges we face in our labor market,” writes Oates. “We must point struggling folks to the best training and supports out there to sustain them along their journey while celebrating even the smallest of victories with them.”

Though there are difficult challenges ahead this year as technology transforms how we work, Oates says that there are opportunities today to meet them. She recommends that employers can do better in communicating the types of skills jobs require and increase outreach to people who do not have the means to relocate to better job markets.

Oates remains optimistic that the community which has come together to solve the skills gap will strengthen its bonds and continue the dialogue in the new year. Thank you to ACT for providing a forum where solutions–and failures–are discussed in an open and supportive environment.

To read the entire blog, click here.

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