Investing in Our Workers

The world is becoming more competitive. After World War II and the passage of the GI Bill, access to higher education in the United States increased, and we had the highest percentage of young adults with some sort of post-high school education in the world. Today, we’re 16th in the world in the percentage of 25 to 34 year olds earning post-high school degrees.1 To compete in the global economy, we must ensure that we are preparing our workforce with the skills for the jobs of the 21st century.

As I travel around the state, small business owners continually tell me that one of the main problems they face is a lack of skilled workers. Even when they have job openings available, they do not have the workforce they need to grow their businesses. This problem is not unique. A nationwide survey of 2,000 businesses by the McKinsey Global Institute found that 40 percent had positions open for at least six months without qualified workers to fill them.2 An International Monetary Fund study estimates that 25 percent of unemployment is caused by a mismatch between the skills workers have and the needs of employers. Using his estimation, 3 million more people would be employed if we bridge the skills gap.3

The economic strategy I laid out earlier in this campaign centered on the need to develop a talent economy by bolstering and reforming our education system so we can continue our role as an economic powerhouse. People are our nation’s most valuable resource, and we must ensure we give our citizens the best education to unleash their potential.

As Senator, I’ll work with educators, parents, and business leaders to make sure the needs of employers match the skills taught in our schools. Specifically, we must ensure each student receives an individualized education, put a renewed focus on science, technology, and math (STEM) education, career and technical education (CTE), and workforce development programs to increase overall employment, create opportunities for our workers and businesses, and strengthen our economy.




1OECD, Education at a Glance 2011. September 13, 2011.
2McKinsey Global Institute, An Economy That Works: Job Creation and America’s Future. June 2011.
3International Monetary Fund, New Evidence on Cyclical and Structural Sources of Unemployment. May 2011.