WASHINGTON, D.C. – John R. Dearie, President of the Center for American Entrepreneurship, today issued the following statement regarding the release of “Closing the Skills and Opportunity Gaps,” the first report in the Economic Opportunity Agenda: A Future that Works series by the New Democrat Coalition:
“The Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE) applauds the release of ‘Closing the Skills and Opportunity Gaps’ by the New Democrat Coalition.
A wide and worsening disconnect between the skill needs of 21st century employers, including startups, and the skills of graduates from American high schools, colleges, and universities – often referred to as the “skills gap” – is arguably the most significant obstacle to the full productive capacity of the U.S. economy and to our nation’s ability to fulfill its sacred promise to provide opportunity for all American citizens. Roundtables with entrepreneurs conducted regularly across the nation by CAE staff reveal that finding job applicants with appropriate skills is one of the most difficult challenges confronted by American startups.
Economic anxiety, underemployment, stagnant middle-class wages, and widening income, wealth, and opportunity gaps are symptoms of the disconnect between the skills of millions of Americans and the nature and requirements of 21st-century work. Continuing technological advancement – and, in particular, the emergence of technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality that have the potential to automate the jobs of millions of Americans – makes addressing the challenge of the future of work all the more urgent.
By identifying the key challenges that contribute to the skill and opportunity gaps, and proposing an array of specific policy responses, the New Democrats have made a major contribution to meeting the mounting challenge of ensuring that all Americans are prepared for the future. As the coalition correctly point out, reform and modernization of America’s education system is the key to success. Making first-class education more accessible and affordable, ensuring that academic curricula incorporate the skill needs of 21st-century businesses, providing greater work/study and apprenticeship opportunities, and cultivating a culture of life-long learning and training are the critical elements of a successful national strategy.
CAE thanks New Democrat Coalition chairman Rep. Jim Himes and Future of Work taskforce co-chairs Rep. Bill Foster, Rep. Seth Moulton, and Rep. Jared Polis for their leadership. We look forward to working with New Democrat Coalition members, and their colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate, in pursuit of their policy recommendations.”
The Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE) is a nonpartisan research, policy, and advocacy organization whose mission is to engage and educate policymakers in Washington, and at state and local levels across the nation, regarding the critical importance of entrepreneurs and start-ups to innovation, economic growth, and job creation – and to pursue a comprehensive policy agenda intended to significantly enhance the circumstances for new business formation, survival, and growth.
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