By now, I’m sure we all know the numbers:

GPCC President & CEO Todd Sanders

  • 49 percent of employers are unable to fill open positions
  • 6.1 million jobs in the U.S. are currently unfilled
  • 50 percent of companies can’t take on new business
  • 80 percent of new jobs come from existing businesses

These figures represent the grim reality that our state is in the midst of a workforce crisis.

Through the Chamber’s economic development program and the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation (GPCF), we are working to tackle the biggest hurdle facing our economy: the lack of qualified talent to meet the needs of business.

Last month, I traveled to Washington D.C. with a delegation of Valley business and education leaders to attend the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s America Working Forward conference. Our team and business leaders participated in conversations about how and why the business community needs to play an integral role in solving our local and national workforce crisis.

America Working Forward
The America Working Forward conference focused heavily on utilizing the Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) model, which can help employers and educators work together.  Designed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in 2014, TPM emphasizes a supply chain management model to close the skills gap and creates an employer-led approach to workforce development and student training programs.

Over the last three years, TPM has worked with 65 organizations in 24 states, including Arizona. The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation is proud to be leading the charge in Arizona, focusing on the needs of key industries and professions; including compliance & risk management, financial services, health care, construction and cybersecurity.

Bringing back the apprenticeship model
Another hot topic at the conference and throughout our trip was President Trump’s renewed focus on apprenticeships. Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta gave a keynote at the conference and spoke about the evolution of apprenticeships. While these opportunities are still available in traditional trades, many new programs are also available in information technology and cybersecurity. In the spirit of National Apprenticeship Week (Nov. 13-19), I want to highlight why apprenticeships are rapidly making a comeback.

Apprenticeships offer employers way to develop “job-ready” talent.   They offer the opportunity for employers and educators to effectively marry classroom education with on-the-job training for students. According to Daniel Viallao, U.S. Department of Labor, internships have a 39 percent retention rate, while apprenticeships typically have an 85 percent retention rate. This is a great opportunity to assess candidates before bringing them on full-time.

As the businesses embrace the old tradition of apprenticeships, it’s important that we change the perception of this age-old model. The traditional four-year, university degree pathway is a great fit for some students, but it is not and cannot be the only viable pathway to prosperity. The apprenticeship model offers an alternative pathway to success for both students and employers—one that will play a significant role in bridging the skills gap and in completing our talent pipeline in many industry sectors.

Creating a community solution
The numbers mentioned above represent the challenges facing business owners and executives across the country. But, they also represent the opportunity for business and education to work together to create a brighter future and a stronger economy.

The Chamber, through GPCF, is working with a number of partners to develop innovative solutions to meet the demands of business and develop pathways of success for students.

Through our community partnerships, we will work to develop innovative pathways to create the job-ready talent our economy needs to set Arizona apart in the race for economic prosperity.

Posted by Danny Imes