Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Senate Majority Leader
As leaders of The Council of State Governments, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris have selected “State Pathways to Prosperity” as their initiative for 2014. They believe the absence of qualified workers to meet the demand of companies is a cause for concern.
“The jobs are there, but the skills are lacking,” Norris said in a recent press release. He noted issues that contribute to the problem, such as children living in poverty, people battling hunger and poor nutrition, veterans’ difficulties in meeting certification and degree requirements, and people who have been involved in the criminal justice system being disqualified from employment.
“It’s difficult for our guidance counselors and local workforce development professionals to do their jobs when the folks who need work have so many related issues that need addressing first,” said Norris.
The connection between education and upward mobility is clear and powerful. Simply stated, people with more education have a better chance to become employed, earn a living, support a family, pay taxes and contribute to the community in which they live.
Although the United States previously led the world in rates of college completion, the nation now ranks 16th in degree attainment for 25- to 34-year-olds. The need to address this issue is critical, as research indicates that by 2018, nearly two-thirds of all jobs in the U.S. will require a postsecondary credential or degree.
Not only is the lack of skills hurting new graduates looking for their first jobs, it’s also hurting the businesses that would like to employ them. A recent McKinsey survey of more than 2,800 employers worldwide shows four of 10 employers say they cannot fill entry-level positions. More than one-third of respondents stated their businesses are suffering economically from a lack of appropriate skills in the labor market.
Education lays the groundwork for graduates to be productive and is closely linked to the gross domestic product. The Program for International Student Assessment shows that American students continue to fall below their international peers. A 2013 report from McKinsey & Company noted that improving K-12 and higher education could raise the GDP by as much as $265 billion by 2020. Such reforms could add as much as $1.7 trillion to the GDP by 2030, according to the report. Young people and adults must be provided the foundational skills they need to be successful, which ultimately will lead to increased state prosperity.
CSG Workforce Development and Education Task Force
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Co-Chair
Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, Co-Chair
- New York Sen. Carl Marcellino, Vice Chair
Youth component – Texas Sen. John Whitmire, Co-Chair
Pennsylvania Rep. Glen Grell, Co-chair
Adult component – Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs, Co-Chair
New York Asm. Jeffrion Aubry, Co-Chair