New Workforce Board Outlines Goals and Key Issues

On Wednesday, March 6th, the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board held its first meeting at the White House. Established through an executive order signed by President Trump in 2018, the Board is comprised of leaders from the private sector, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and state governments. The group will provide recommendations to the interagency National Council for the American Worker on ways to promote career education, workforce training, apprenticeships, and other work-based learning opportunities.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who serves as a co-chair of the Board, identified the deficiencies in the current education and job training systems according to the Trump administration. “Simply stated, our system of workforce education and training is not providing American businesses with the skilled individuals we all need,” said Ross. “The current training and educational system is also inappropriate for older American workers who are not equipped for the skilled, high-paying jobs that remain vacant in every sector of our growing economy.”

Secretary Ross explained that emphasizing the value of all pathways to filling job openings, including industry certification programs and apprenticeships, should be a key principal for our national workforce development strategy. He also outlined four goals that will guide the Board’s discussions, including:

  • Developing a campaign to promote multiple pathways to career success.
  • Increasing data transparency to better match workers with available careers.
  • Modernizing candidate recruitment and training practices.
  • Measuring and encouraging employer-led training and investments.

The Board was tasked with providing some specific deliverables to advance these goals within the next year.

During the group discussion, Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, made the case for including strategies to address barriers to employment for jobseekers, including access to childcare. Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. of the Society for Human Resource Management spoke about the need to support people with criminal backgrounds who are reentering the workforce. Boys & Girls Clubs of America CEO Jim Clark also noted the importance of bringing career development and experiential learning opportunities to young people outside the classroom.

Local Goodwill® organizations are critical to addressing the nation’s current and future workforce needs by training or retraining workers. Nonprofit job-training providers should be key partners in these policy conversations. Through our direct advocacy efforts, as well as our partnerships with national stakeholder groups, Goodwill Industries International continues to educate Congress and the Administration about the value of investing in federal workforce development programs and we stand ready to support the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in their work.