Giving Compass' Take:

• Amelia Harper reports the content of a U.S. Chamber of Commerce discussion on how to address the skills gap through education, specifically early education programs that will help support better workforce development initiatives. 

• What is the reasoning for focusing on cradle-to-career? Why is this model successful?

• For more information, check out the Giving Compass Workforce Development Guide for donors. 

At a conference in Washington, D.C. this week, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue discussed ways to improve the skills gap by increasing the focus on early-childhood education and, at the K-12 level, focusing on rigorous standards, school choice and tough accountability, The 74 reports.

The country is also facing a “people gap,” Donohue said. Immigration reform can help, he said, but government and businesses must also address the opioid crisis and prison reform and find ways to re-engage “opportunity youth” — those between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school or in the workforce. The economics of society are interdependent. Businesses need workers who are trained for new technologies and so they depend on schools to provide the basics of education and the soft skills needed to function in the workplace.

Schools rely on businesses for additional support and to provide workplace training opportunities for students. Businesses can also provide incentives for students to succeed because they know a good job is waiting for them at the end of the road.

When these entities work together, a great deal can be accomplished. Groups such as local chambers of commerce can help encourage business cooperation and can facilitate opportunities for schools and business to interact. And nationally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is working to coordinate efforts between businesses and education.

Communities can help workforce development by supporting preschool education programs and by working together to create job readiness programs for students and for those who need a second chance at preparing for the workforce.

Read the full article about workforce development by Amelia Harper at Education Dive.