The United States faces a pressing national security and competitiveness challenge rooted in a shortage of a diverse, highly skilled workforce, particularly in vital cross-disciplinary fields such as data science and analytics, cybersecurity, and information technology. To address this challenge, the Business-Higher Education Forum launched the National Higher Education and Workforce Initiative, employing a model of strategic business engagement with postsecondary education to meet the highest priority workforce needs. Through the initiative, the education forum plans, launches and assesses projects, partnerships and scaling strategies that are designed to enable business and higher education to move from transactional engagement in low-touch, piecemeal activities to strategic, long-term partnerships that align postsecondary education with workforce needs. Two of these projects—in Maryland and Ohio— offer models of such partnerships.
There were many issues facing governors in 2014. Even as the stock market rebounded and state budgets grew at a moderate pace, unemployment and underemployment remained high. Public discontent with government has been indiscriminate in its focus, levied at not only politicians in Washington, but also those in state capitals. This led to political fallout from voters as they vented their anger and frustration on elected leaders on Election Day.1
Tens of millions of Americans have criminal records, and for even the most qualified among them, finding a job can be incredibly difficult. When these people remain unemployed, it’s bad for them, certainly, but also bad for their communities. Thus, a number of states and localities have adopted so-called “Fair Hiring” practices, which seek to ensure job applicants with criminal records can show a potential employer their qualifications before being required to reveal their criminal histories.
Credit for Prior Learning is gaining traction as one strategy for advancing postsecondary degree attainment. While much progress has been made in institutions across the U.S., challenges remain in the widespread acceptance and application of prior learning to provide transfer pathways. State and regional collaborations offer promising models.
Mixed messages of the current economy keep at bay a full recovery from the Great Recession that officially ended in June 2009. The drop in oil prices has put money in consumers’ pockets, but these consumers seem wary of returning it into circulation, with many using the extra cash to pay off or reduce personal debt. In some ways, governors are similarly disposed as they map the policy and budget way forward for their respective states. Several chief executives are asking for more stringent laws, constitutional requirements, for budget balance or regarding the payment of debt, to keep their states on a path toward fiscal sustainability. Watch words this year include “cautious optimism” and “continuous improvement.”1