A concerted national effort to close the widening gap between the skills needed in the U.S. workplace and the skills being produced by its education and worker training systems is critical to continued U.S. competitiveness, DuPont Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman told U.S. President Barack Obama and fellow members of the President's Jobs and Competitiveness Council Jan. 17.
Kullman and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg co-authored the education section of the final Jobs Council report.
"American ingenuity has given the world some of the greatest scientific and technological inventions - from the light bulb to nylon to the Internet," Kullman said.
"The U.S. economy has traditionally been an engine of innovation, fueled by a highly skilled workforce and generating technologies and products sold around the world. Today, that American innovation and competitiveness is at risk.
"As the skills required in the 21st century workplace grow ever more technical and complex, our education and worker training systems are not keeping pace.
"In fact, in many areas we seem to be losing ground. Companies are struggling to fill available jobs with skilled workers even while Americans are unemployed. We can and must ensure we provide our citizens the education and skills to compete in the global economy and ensure U.S. companies have a skilled workforce. In this report we lay out a roadmap for excellence.
"Our recommendations span from preschool through universities and community colleges and call on the private sector, government at all levels and the public to work together to address this critical need," Kullman added. "We believe in a strong America fueled by skilled American workers and companies who compete and win in the global economy."
"The skills gap is hurting our competitiveness as a country and we need to do more to close it," said Sandberg. "The private sector needs to work with government to identify the skills that businesses need to be competitive, tailor curricula and training programs to deliver these skills and publish data that helps to match skills demand with skills supply."
The recommendations, submitted to the President today by Kullman and Sandberg, are summarized in four broad themes:
1.Identify the skills employers need and ensure that educational programs and worker training programs help students and workers acquire those skills.
2.Broadly improve educational outcomes across America, which requires, among other things, an overarching commitment to effective teaching.
3.Focus on data and standards are critical to accomplishing these goals.
4.Improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education throughout our academic institutions as these skills are critical in an increasingly technical world.
DuPont has a long-standing commitment to education and competitiveness, constructing one of the first schools in the state of Delaware.
In 2007, the company's former CEO, Chad Holliday, co-authored a definitive report from the National Academy of Sciences, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm," one of the first reports to identify and define the U.S. competitiveness issue. It called for a comprehensive and coordinated federal effort to bolster competitiveness in science and technology education.