Today, Opportunity Nation released a plan to tackle the youth unemployment crisis by rallying public, private and nonprofit sectors to help in the charge. Employers are a big piece of the solution to help young Americans understand and gain the skills needed in the labor market to find a path to good jobs and economic success. The National Network of Business and Industry Associations (National Network) is helping realize this goal.
Twenty-five business and industry associations, which represent sectors that will account for 75 percent of job growth by 2020, have come together to build new learning and workforce development approaches that prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow, while providing workers opportunities for continuous learning. The National Network envisions a world in which students and workers have clear pathways to learning and working in meaningful careers, and employers have a skilled workforce focused on performance, growth and opportunity. Failure to act now could mean 30 million new jobs (and 4.7 million open jobs today) will go unfilled, 5.8 million young people will remain out of school or out of work, businesses will close due to a lack of available, qualified employees, and 7,000 young people will continue to drop out of high school every day.
Connecting Learning and Work: Empowering Working Learners
Innovations in technology, continual economic shifts and changing cultural priorities have created a national community of “working learners” – people who work and learn at the same time and are key to empowering businesses for the future. Working learners weave learning opportunities throughout their careers and lives to upgrade their skills, acquire new competencies and apply them across multiple jobs and industries. They navigate transitions between “learning” and “work,” achieving better economic opportunity and quality of life.
The National Network is leading the charge to connect the worlds of learning and work and help our nation’s youth succeed as working learners. We are acting across several fronts to create more opportunities for individuals to gain the economic and social capital needed to succeed. This includes access to learning and credentials that matter, meaningful connections to employers and work experiences, and ways to build skills of economic value throughout their lifetimes.