- Five higher ed leaders are among 25 members of industry, education and government appointed to the Trump administration's new American Workforce Policy Advisory Board.
- Borne from an executive order signed in July, the group will "offer diverse perspectives on how the Federal Government can improve education, training, and re-training for American workers."
- The higher ed picks are Scott Pulsipher, president of Western Governors University; Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges; Jay Box, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System; Marianne Wanamaker, professor at the University of Tennessee; and Sheree Utash, president of WSU Tech.
The higher ed representatives will serve alongside executives of companies such as Apple, IBM and Walmart, two state governors, and several association and union heads, including that of the North America's Building Trades Unions and the National Association of Manufacturers. They will work with the previously established National Council for the American Worker.
The advisory board will help develop a national campaign to promote "education and training pathways that lead to family sustaining careers," according to a release. It will also recommend ways to improve labor market data to better align student skills with employer demand, as well as help forge private sector partnerships around lifelong learning opportunities.
The advisory board announcement comes as industries across the country voice concern over a lack of skilled workers. Some corporations are relocating key offices to be closer to centers of talent. Others are offering signing bonuses or upping pay to capture their share of new employees. Some states and cities are working to upskill local workers to meet new economic needs.
Colleges and universities play a growing role in these efforts. For example, WSU Tech, the technical college whose president has a seat on the new advisory board, is paying to relocate people from across the country to Wichita to train for work in its aviation industry. In its first round, the Wichita Promise Move relocated 50 people, all of whom got job offers from the participating companies.
Nearly two-thirds of entry-level jobs in the U.S. require only a high school diploma or less while about 60% of adults have more than that level of education, according to an Urban Institute report that calls the phenomenon a "mix-match."
A separate report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce notes strong employment opportunities in jobs requiring more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree.
That's prompting other areas of higher ed to get involved. In a policy paper released last year, four-year public universities indicated they see entrepreneurship and workforce development as their responsibility, too.
Government and private-sector partnerships that help spur local employment, as well as better access to dual-enrollment programs and more online offerings, can help toward that goal, members of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities said at a panel presenting the paper.