This week, IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty was named Chair of the Business Roundtable Education and Workforce Committee (EWC). Ginni will be working tirelessly with EWC members to promote the Business Roundtable’s new “Tomorrow Ready” platform on education and job-ready skills.
The Tomorrow Ready agenda is about ensuring America’s workforce is prepared for careers in the 21st century digital economy, where in-demand jobs in areas like AI, cybersecurity and cloud computing require new and evolving skill sets. These new jobs are emerging across all sectors of the economy as digital technologies transform business processes and the way work gets done.
Data and AI are the opportunity and issue of our time. Eventually 100 percent of jobs will be affected by AI and other new technologies. It’s critical that our education system keeps pace with these changes.
Right now, our educational system is not equipped to meet the demands of the modern workplace. For example, as one of America’s largest technology employers, IBM struggles to fill thousands of jobs at any given time because there are simply not enough skilled workers to fill them. We expect the amount of available technology-related jobs to double in the next decade, so investing in the future of our workforce is a top priority.
For too long, our country has focused on just one path to a good job: a bachelor’s degree. As the economy evolves, technology advances and the workforce changes, we need to make sure individuals have the relevant skills, intellectual curiosity, a willingness to learn and adaptability for these new collar careers.
Watch: Ginni Rometty joins Ivanka Trump and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon to discuss the future of work at BRT’s CEO Innovation Summit.
This will be the key focus of the BRT Tomorrow Ready agenda: to refocus education dollars and the policies behind them to help more students and mid-career professionals build these in-demand skills.
There are three initial policy priorities for the Tomorrow Ready agenda:
reform work-study programs,
expand Pell Grants to individuals in the workforce, and
increase flexibility around federal student loans.
Current work-study programs prohibit students from working off-campus – but students could benefit immensely from other jobs, such as internships at companies where they would learn skills relevant to a future career, rather than just filling campus jobs in the library or cafeteria.
Pell Grants need to work harder to serve everyone with need, not just full-time students. There are millions of Americans who go to school part-time or are mid-career professionals who need financial support for skills education. We need to make sure these students have the same opportunities as full-time students.
When it comes to student loans, we shouldn’t restrict them only to students who are working toward a bachelor’s or other higher education degree. Federal student loans should also be available for apprenticeships, certificate programs, or other mid-career trainings that build in-demand skills.
If all of us, business and leaders in government, can come together to make these common-sense reforms a reality, we have a real opportunity to close America’s skills gap. That means more good jobs for U.S. workers, a stronger economy and a renewed era of innovation. It means our workforce will be Tomorrow Ready, today.
-Christopher A. Padilla Vice President, IBM Government and Regulatory Affairs
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