About the Problem

The U.S. isn’t sufficiently preparing our students for the job opportunities of the present or the future.


About the Policy

Increase incentives for high school and college partnerships with industry in order to better match worker skills with employer needs.

Public Support

84% of All Polled
86% of Democrats
86% of Republicans
78% of Independents

Polling data derived from three national surveys conducted by Cohen Research Group in February and March 2016. Each survey had a sample size of at least 1,000 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%

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There’s a troubling disparity in the U.S. job market. In some industries, there are few jobs available and many workers chasing them. In other industries, there are plenty of jobs available but not enough skilled workers to fill them.

This “skills gap” is a growing problem.

Skilled laborers - such as mechanics, carpenters and welders – are among the most coveted workers currently being sought by employers. In 2015, 32% of employers reported difficulty in filling positions in such fields.

Two factors are responsible for this unique paradox: a shift in education policies and an aging workforce. Over the past several decades, many high schools phased out classes and workshops, including carpentry and mechanics, due to budget cuts. Colleges are also graduating fewer individuals with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees, leading to a shortage of young workers possessing skills for a rapidly changing workforce. The skills shortage in the younger generation is worsened by a decreasing supply of aging workers that currently work in skilled positions. As baby-boomers retire, their jobs – particularly skilled positions – are not being filled quickly enough.

Jeff Owens, president of manufacturing consulting services company ATS stated: “Often people say we do have vocational training, but it’s geared toward yesterday’s technology and yesterday’s job opportunities … I am not sure the educators are on the mark with what exactly needs to be taught for today’s environment.”

In order to better prepare young workers for the jobs of the future and to occupy jobs that desperately need to be filled, we need an increase in incentives for high schools and colleges to partner with industry in order to better match worker skills with employer needs. This problem must be nipped in the bud, because our country cannot wait or afford to train older and existing workers for jobs for which they have little to no skills or knowledge.

A diverse and exciting range of jobs await high school and college graduates, and a partnership between schools and industry will reduce the gap between open job positions and workers who are trained and able to fill those positions.