Dean C. Garfield photo
Help Wanted: We have the jobs, now we need the skilled Americans to fill them

This week the Trump Administration, as part of its Workforce Week, is expected to announce initiatives to bolster apprenticeship programs as a way to address the United States’ skills gap. This announcement comes at a pivitol time: millions of Americans are looking for work while millions of good-paying jobs go unfilled. In the tech sector alone, there are over half a million open computing jobs in the United States, and last year, it was estimated that there were 3.3 million unfilled science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs posted online.

Numerous ITI members are already offering apprenticeships to supplement in-class learning; providing mentorship programs to students or individuals looking to work in STEM; and partnering with universities and community colleges to develop successful STEM curricula and certification programs. Many ITI members are also investing tens of millions of dollars in programs designed to help educate and prepare students, and to train American workers.

These vacancies are not just in the tech sector, but exist in small businesses and companies across industries as employers seek to leverage technology in their enterprises and find there are not enough U.S. workers with the necessary skillsets to fill these jobs.

For example, in manufacturing alone, leading CEOs confirm that 6 out of 10 positions are open because of a talent shortage. However, manufacturing is not the only sector being transformed by technology. Agriculture, energy, and healthcare are all rapidly changing because of innovation. And these jobs remain open in cities across the country such as Orlando, Florida, where there are nearly 10,000 STEM vacancies, or Columbus, Ohio, where 4,000 STEM jobs are currently unfilled. The situation is even more dire for employers in rural states who confront a much larger STEM shortage than the rest of the country.

The tech industry is investing billions to employ more Americans. Whether it is Apple and Corning announcing a partnership to invest $200 million into a research and development (R&D) facility in Kentucky; Amazon committing to create 100,000 U.S. jobs in the next 18 months; Intel pumping $7 billion into its production facilities in Arizona to spur 3,000 jobs; IBM pledging $1 billion for employment development and training programs; or Samsung expanding its manufacturing operations by $1 billion: our commitment to hire Americans and put them to work across the country is clear.

And while the tech sector is committed to creating U.S. jobs and strengthening the skills of the American workforce, success cannot be achieved by our industry alone. Policymakers must also make a concerted effort to better prepare U.S. students and workers, so that these individuals can pursue careers in rapidly-growing STEM fields.

That’s why we are supporting this announcement by the administration to better enable Americans to obtain good-paying jobs through apprenticeship programs. Similarly, in the weeks ahead, ITI members will be urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act for the first time since 2006 to offer students opportunities to gain the skills needed to compete for these open jobs.

The need to find creative solutions to address our country’s skill gap is real. By supporting programs that prepare our students and workers alike, Congress and the administration can better enable Americans to obtain good-paying jobs fueled by innovation, and we are ready to be a partner in addressing this challenge.

Public Policy Tags: Skills/STEM