McGraw-Hill Research Foundation Policy Paper Addresses Growing Demand for a Skilled and Educated Global Workforce

Authors call on business and educational communities to collaborate to decrease widening skills gap; career and technical education viewed as solution

Dec 01, 2011, 16:44 ET from The McGraw-Hill Research Foundation

NEW YORK, Dec. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A policy paper released today by The McGraw-Hill Research Foundation calls for greater collaboration between the business and education communities to create a coordinated, institutionalized system that prepares the workforce of today and tomorrow for the demands of an increasingly high-tech and more competitive global economy.

In the paper, titled "Developing Human Capital: Meeting the Growing Global Need for a Skilled and Educated Workforce," authors Janet Bray, executive director of the Association for Career and Technical Education; Ron Painter, CEO of the National Association of Workforce Boards; and Mitch Rosin, director of adult education and workforce initiatives for McGraw-Hill Education, point out that the goals and accountability systems of business and education do not align – but can. The current lack of integration is a major barrier to creating a steady supply of employees who are well suited to succeed in the changing global job market, whether they work on the factory floor or in a C-suite.

"There has traditionally been a disconnect between the business people who create jobs and the education professionals who provide high school students and others with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful employees," the authors observe.

For example, many of today's business leaders believe academia is not adequately producing highly skilled candidates with the three primary qualities they seek in new-hires:

  • A global mindset – the ability to work in an international, multi-cultural society
  • Systematic thinkers with problem-solving, higher-order analytical and collaborative skills, also known as "21st century skills"
  • An appreciation for the needs and benefits of lifelong learning

Increasingly, employers are also looking for workers with industry-recognized credentials, and are far less concerned with the current gold standard measurements of success in education, such as course credits and seat time.

"Prospective employees must have a good education and marketable skills to survive in a borderless economy dependent on technology," the authors write, explaining that the global labor market has significantly changed in recent decades. Among other examples, manufacturing jobs are now outsourced to countries with the lowest employment costs, assembly line work requires a more specialized skill set such as an ability to solve problems and handle complex machinery, the construction industry and others are challenged by a lack of adequately trained technicians, and a bachelor's degree no longer guarantees job security or steady income growth.

The authors identify career and technical education (CTE) as one area where business and education already overlap and where additional emphasis needs to be placed. "The U.S. and other developed nations need to devote more resources to career and technical education – not just for young people still in school, but even more critically for adults who face barriers to employment due to lack of formal education, English language or other skills."

CTE is important for another reason: earning potential. Recent data suggest that technical credentials have the potential to outpace the wages of bachelor's degree holders as well as those with just a high school diploma.

In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 71 percent of "growth" jobs through 2016 will require postsecondary credentials. However, some 88 million U.S. adults have at least one major educational barrier to employment, only about 30 percent of people 25 to 34 years of age graduate college, and approximately one million high school students drop out each year.

Other parts of the world are being more responsive to the changing global job market, the authors note. The Indian government, for example, has provided capital funding to train 150 million workers by the year 2022. Several European countries have also established technical education initiatives to improve their citizens' vocational qualifications, and studies of their on-the-job training programs have shown them to be more effective than classroom instruction.  A question remains, the authors note – Why hasn't the United States conducted the same analysis or made capital investment in its own labor force?

The authors propose several opportunities to remedy the disconnect between employer and education needs:

  • The National Association of Workforce Boards can: secure more proactive leadership from the business community and widely promote the idea that technical careers are in demand, offer a secure and meaningful future, and require postsecondary training but not a bachelor's degree.
  • The Association of Career and Technical Education can: reform career guidance protocols to reflect labor market needs and ensure CTE teachers and trainers are well prepared with on-the-ground industry experience.
  • The Business Roundtable comprising top CEOs can: help impact federal policy by ensuring a sustained investment in math and science education and promote a Race to the Top competition for two- and four-year colleges that focuses on completion rates and attainment of credentials valued by employers.
  • The Center for Law and Social Policy can: call on Congress to strengthen the Workforce Investment Act to increase regional productivity and competitiveness and provide high-quality job training and education that result in employer-recognized credentials and lead to family-supporting wages and benefits.

The authors believe that "close cooperation and a real, ongoing partnership" between education and business must continue – and accelerate – to abate the current and projected skills gap and stimulate global economic growth.

To download a copy of "Developing Human Capital: Meeting the Growing Global Need for a Skilled and Educated Workforce," please visit:

About The McGraw-Hill Research Foundation
The Foundation was established with the support of The McGraw-Hill Companies. It was incorporated on July 16, 2010, as a Delaware non-profit and is in the process of applying to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization. Additional information is available at

About the Association for Career and Technical Education
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation's largest not-for-profit education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. It provides advocacy, public awareness and access to information, professional development and tools that enable members to be successful and effective leaders. Founded in 1926, ACTE has more than 27,000 members, including teachers, counselors and administrators at the middle school, high school and postsecondary levels.

About the National Association of Workforce Boards
The National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) connects workforce development professionals, Workforce Investment Board members, and policymakers with the knowledge, training and tools to help make informed, smart decisions about how to invest in workforce strategies that advance the economic health of their communities through a skilled, competitive workforce.

Tom Stanton
(212) 904-3214

SOURCE The McGraw-Hill Research Foundation