The following originally appeared in The New York Times.
Wage stagnation. Income inequality. A lack of quality education. Insufficient training and skills development. Issues like these have led approximately two-thirds of Americans to believe that the next generation will be worse off than the last. And it is true that too many people are not getting a fair opportunity to get ahead. We must find ways to help them move up the economic ladder, and everyone — business, government and nonprofits — needs to play a role…
It is true that some businesses cannot afford to raise wages right now. But every business can do its part through whatever ways work best for it and its community. It can identify local partners to address economic inequality. It can encourage and provide continuous training, teach leadership capabilities and identify mentors to help sharpen employee skills.
In our case, we will invest over $200 million in 2016 on training for thousands of entry-level employees in our consumer banking business. We’re on pace to train 30 percent more employees this year, many of whom are tellers. This type of training has helped more than 40 percent of our tellers get promoted into higher-paying roles within five years, and we now have five very senior regional directors who worked as tellers.
Of course, not all skills development can be done on the job. Currently, about five million young people are neither working nor in school. Others are stuck in dead-end, low-wage jobs without the skills they can transfer to better paying careers. They lack the right education or credentials that will set them up for long-term success. This is a national tragedy and an economic crisis.
We are also investing $325 million in career-oriented education aligned to growing sectors. This fall, through partnerships with education organizations, we will provide 10 states with up to $2 million each to strengthen and expand career-focused education in their school systems. These investments are focused on the millions of well-paying jobs that do not need a bachelor’s degree but do require training, either in high school or a post-secondary program. Around the world, these programs are helping job seekers, including young people and adults, attain valuable skills in a range of fields, from robotics to nursing…
We face many challenges. But they can be overcome by government, business and the nonprofit sectors working together to build on models of success that advance economic opportunity and create more widely shared prosperity.