The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation last week launched America Works, a new nationwide initiative mobilizing industry and government to swiftly address America’s deepening worker shortage crisis.
“As we stand on the cusp of what could be a great American resurgence, a worker shortage is holding back job creators across the country,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark said. “Together, we can and we must address our nation’s workforce challenges. When you lead the world in talent, you lead the world in solutions. With a highly skilled workforce, there’s nothing business cannot achieve and nothing we as a nation cannot do.”
Through the initiative, the U.S. Chamber is advocating for – and rallying the business community to push for – federal and state policy changes that will help train more Americans for in-demand jobs, remove barriers to work, and double the number of visas available for legal immigrants. And the U.S. Chamber Foundation is expanding its most impactful employer-led workforce and job training programs and launching new efforts to connect employers to undiscovered talent.
“This is Operation Warp Speed for Jobs,” Clark said. “We’re helping our members address the worker shortage by bringing the full strength of the Chamber’s advocacy muscle to this urgent crisis, expanding the Chamber Foundation’s most successful workforce programs, and mobilizing our nationwide federation of association and chamber partners to drive solutions that make America more competitive.”
An Urgent Crisis
New surveys and federal data analysis published today by the U.S. Chamber show that:
- There are now half as many available workers for every open job across the country (1.4 available workers per opening) as there have been on average over the past 20 years (2.8).
- In several states and industries—especially hard-hit sectors like education and health services as well as professional and business services—there are currently fewer job seekers than the total number of jobs open.
- Ninety-one (91) percent of state and local chambers of commerce say worker shortages are holding back their economies. Eighty-three (83) percent of industry association economists say employers in their sectors are finding it more difficult to fill jobs than they were five years ago.
“The worker shortage is real—and it’s getting worse by the day,” Clark said. “American businesses of every size, across every industry, in every state are reporting unprecedented challenges filling open jobs. The worker shortage is a national economic emergency, and it poses an imminent threat to our fragile recovery and America’s great resurgence.”
Driving Policy Action
As part of the America Works Initiative, the Chamber is bringing the full strength of its unmatched advocacy muscle to this urgent challenge by introducing the America Works Agenda: a suite of legislative and regulatory solutions at the federal and state level that would eliminate barriers to work for Americans, invest in skills and job training and reform America’s broken, outdated immigration system.
Through the America Works Agenda, the U.S. Chamber is calling for:
- Doubling the cap on employment-based visas, doubling the quota on H-1B and H-2B visas and implementing other reforms to the legal immigration system to help employers meet demand for high-demand jobs in labor-strapped sectors
- Growing federal investments in employer-led job education and training programs
- Expanding access to childcare for working parents
“We must arm workers with the skills they need, we must remove barriers that are keeping too many Americans on the sidelines, and we must recruit the very best from around the world to help fill high-demand jobs,” Clark said. “One solution or the other will not get the job done: Only by addressing all three challenges can we address our nation’s workforce challenges.”
Scaling Employer Solutions
The U.S. Chamber Foundation is expanding employer-led workforce and job training programs to help more businesses develop the talent they need and help more workers better prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
- The Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management program – an employer-led job training initiative currently working with more than 2,000 employers in 37 states – will expand to a total of 42 states by 2023 and later this year will launch a new online learning platform to reach and support even more employers and education partners across America
- The Foundation will soon launch a new initiative, the Jobs and Employment Data Exchange (JEDx), to modernize and streamline job postings, improve hiring data and analytics and arm workers with better employment and earnings records when applying for jobs
In addition, the U.S. Chamber Foundation is expanding its longstanding efforts to help employers recruit workers from important talent pools many overlook:
- The Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, which has helped more than 600,000 veterans and military spouses secure jobs, will later this year launch a new program to help connect military veterans to high-demand careers in technology fields
- In partnership with the Society for Human Resource Management, the Foundation is encouraging and arming businesses to become “second chance” employers by hiring ex-offender job candidates
These and other private sector solutions to help employers address their workforce challenges can be found on the new America Works digital hub at uschamber.com/work.