Business, Industry Groups Advance Efforts to Close the “Skills Gap”

Posted: February 20th, 2014


Business, Industry Groups Advance Efforts to Close the “Skills Gap”

Organizations Share Plans to Educate and Train More Workers for the Jobs of Today and Tomorrow

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 20, 2014) — More than 20 business and industry organizations met today to share plans to ensure workers have the knowledge and skills they need to work in the modern economy. Convened by ACT Foundation and Business Roundtable, the National Network of Business and Industry Associations is coordinating cross-sector efforts to close the “skills gap.”

“Business, educators and job trainers must align their efforts to make sure workers have the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said John Engler, president of Business Roundtable, an operational partner of the National Network. “Everyone here today agrees that it is no longer enough to describe and quantify the gap.  It is time to get to work to close it for good.”

U.S. employers are finding it increasingly difficult to find skilled candidates to fill open jobs, creating the “skills gap.” A June 2013 report by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce projected that 2.6 million jobs in science, technology, engineering and math will need to be filled between 2010 and 2020, for example.

The National Network represents major business sectors and is funded through a collaborative partnership of ACT Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Joyce Foundation and Lumina Foundation. Members include leaders in the manufacturing, retail, healthcare, energy, construction, hospitality, transportation and information technology sectors. They represent the source of nearly 75 percent of projected U.S. job growth through 2020 (an estimated 30 million new jobs).

At today’s meeting, members discussed efforts to:

  • Create a blueprint of the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies required for career success in core business sectors;
  • Define the standards for national credentials that validate those skills; and
  • Identify successful models that integrate industry-recognized credentials into secondary and postsecondary education.

“It is encouraging to see the business community unify across industry and sector lines to produce actionable solutions to close the ‘skills gap,’ especially with the power of the Business Roundtable behind them,” commented Parminder K. Jassal, founding executive director, ACT Foundation, which co-operates the National Network.

 “The National Network establishes a more effective, coordinated approach to understanding the skills and competencies sought by employers to help close the ‘skills gap,’ said Ellen S. Alberding, president, Joyce Foundation. “And, it will help ensure that job seekers are armed with the knowledge and certification that will improve their chances of succeeding in today’s workforce.”

“We applaud this effort to provide a framework for defining the skills and competencies needed to obtain and retain a host of jobs, and integrating skills certifications into programs of education in high schools, community colleges and four-year institutions,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO, Lumina Foundation.

 Inaugural Members of the National Network of Business and Industry Associations

 Aerospace Industries Association

American Health Information Management Association

American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute

American Land Title Association and ALTA’s Land Title Institute

American Moving and Storage Association

American Public Transportation Association

American Welding Society

Center for Energy Workforce Development


Home Builders Institute

Interstate Renewable Energy Council

The Manufacturing Institute

National Apartment Association Education Institute

National Center for Construction Education and Research

National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence

National Institute for Metalworking Skills

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

National Retail Federation Foundation

Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute

TechAmerica/TechAmerica Foundation

Western Association of Food Chains


About ACT Foundation

ACT Foundation reaches across organizational boundaries, sectors, and the nation, to fund and develop strategic approaches to support working learners in their individual journeys toward successful careers and lives. Based in Austin, Texas, ACT Foundation is a private, independent organization, endowed by ACT, a nonprofit public trust committed to helping people achieve educational and workplace success. The Foundation connects fifty years of data and insights to catalyze and build a National Learning Economy that will nurture the success of working learners while fueling a stronger economy.


About Business Roundtable

Business Roundtable (BRT) is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy. BRT-member companies produce $7.4 trillion in annual revenues and employ more than 16 million people. Comprising more than a third of the total value of the U.S. stock market, these companies invest $158 billion annually in research and development – equal to 62 percent of private U.S. R&D spending. In addition, they pay more than $200 billion in dividends to shareholders and generate more than $540 billion in sales for small and medium-sized businesses annually. BRT companies give more than $9 billion a year in combined charitable contributions.


About the Joyce Foundation

The Joyce Foundation supports the development of policies that both improve the quality of life for people in the Great Lakes region and serve as models for the rest of the country. We focus on today’s most pressing problems while also informing the public policy decisions critical to creating opportunity and achieving long-term solutions. Our grant making focuses on Great Lakes protection and restoration, energy efficiency, teacher quality and early reading, workforce development, gun violence prevention, diverse art for diverse audiences, and a strong, thriving democracy. The work is based on sound research and is focused on where we can add the most value. We encourage innovative and collaborative approaches with a regional focus and the potential for a national reach.


About Lumina Foundation

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025.


Katie Wacker