Workforce Development

Skills for America’s Future and the White House Summit on Jobs

January 31, 2014

President Barack Obama signs a Memorandum to give fair treatment to the long-term unemployed applying for jobs. (Via The White House Instagram account)

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama argued for a focused effort to “train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.” The Aspen Institute Skills for America’s Future (SAF) initiative joins with the president in this important work. 

In connection with today’s White House summit, SAF made a series of program announcements intended to help advance economic opportunity for America’s workers, reduce long-term unemployment, and ensure a competitive workforce for the nation’s employers.

SAF announced a technical assistance program for prospective applicants to the Ready to Work Partnerships, a funding program announced today that will target the long-term unemployed. SAF will provide online informational resources and briefings to applicants. It will also offer prospective applicants with strategies and approaches reflecting best practices in demand-driven employment strategies that meet employer needs and ensure labor market success for job seekers and the long-term unemployed.

SAF and Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, the first regional adaptation of SAF’s employer-driven workforce development principles, announced efforts to support the expansion of SCF’s promising model program. SAF has provided Skills for Chicagoland’s Future with a grant to launch a new web portal to support the needs of employers and organizations interested in learning more about employer-driven work or in replicating the SCF model. SAF also announced a grant to the Indianapolis-based Workforce Investment Board, EmployIndy, in support of the adoption of employer-driven workforce development practices targeting the long-term unemployed. 

Finally, SAF announced plans to undertake a research agenda designed to identify and promulgate a set of best practices for how to effectively engage employers in training and employment programs.

SAF is excited to partner with the president, the nation’s employers, and the workforce development community to address the challenge of long-term unemployment and build a skilled, competitive workforce.

Skills for America’s Future, part of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program, is a private sector-led initiative which advocates for workforce development practices and partnerships to address the national workforce skills gap. Since the initiative was announced by Obama in October 2010, Skills for America’s Future has successfully helped create or expand partnerships between more than 40 employers and 200 community colleges across the country and formed strategic partnerships with major industry associations.

John Colborn is director of the Aspen Institute Skills for America’s Future initiative.