May 21st, 2013

PRESS RELEASE: Citing Severe Skilled Worker Shortages, New York Business Leaders Push for Rigorous Academic Standards and Innovative High School Models

Media Contacts:

Chris Beakey, National Office                        Jenn O’Connor, New York State Director

Email: cbeakey@americasedge.org             Email: joconnor@americasedge.org

Cell: 302-448-0253                                         Cell: 518-817-1107

Office: 202-464-7016                                     Office: 518-396-5774

Citing Severe Skilled Worker Shortages, New York Business Leaders Push for Rigorous Academic Standards and Innovative High School Models

Report Shows Significant Skills Gap Will Hurt New York Businesses and Economy Particularly in Capital Region; Strategic Investments Is the Solution

Click here to view the report: Ensuring the Capital Region’s Global Success: Reversing our “skills gaps” through high school education models.

 ALBANY, NY – If current education and labor market trends continue, New York will face a deficit of 350,000 workers with mid-level skills to fill current jobs and the need is particularly evident in the five-county Capital Region.  This statistic is unsustainable if the Capital Region as well as the rest of the state is expected to compete and succeed in the global marketplace.

That is a key message in a new America’s Edge report – Ensuring the Capital Region’s Global Success: Reversing our “skills gaps” through high school education models.­– released today by its business leaders.  The report provides good news and bad news for the Capital Region’s businesses and economy as well as the rest of the state. On the upside, the Capital Region can look to significant growth in well-paying jobs requiring post-secondary education. On the downside, the state will not have nearly enough workers to fill them without a substantial shift in current education trends.

The solution: evidence-based, innovative high school education models that prepare students for college and career and implementation of rigorous academic standards – the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards – and assessments that provide students with the core knowledge and deeper learning skills that businesses need to compete and succeed in the global marketplace. These standards and assessments will not only better prepare students, but employers could use the scores to find qualified candidates with necessary skill sets.

The following business leaders with America’s Edge and higher education leaders gathered in Albany at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering to release the report: Mark Eagan, President and CEO, Albany Chamber of Commerce; David Rooney, Senior Vice President at the Center for Economic Growth; John Cavalier, CEO (Retired), MapInfo; and Johanna Duncan-Poitier, SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges and the Education Pipeline.

Even though employers have always needed workers proficient in the “3 Rs” – reading, writing and arithmetic, America’s Edge business leaders stressed this morning that the current fast-paced global marketplace requires even higher proficiency levels in these hard skills, and additional skills in communication, critical thinking and collaboration.

Unfortunately, the state’s economy will continue to be hobbled by low levels of academic achievement and workforce preparation unless New York invests in what works.

Mark Eagan emphasized the startling statistic during the press conference.  “If current labor trends continue, New York will face deficit of 350,000 mid-level skilled workers.  This is simply unsustainable if we are to compete and succeed in the global marketplace,” said Eagan.

“The strength of the economy and the economic future for New York businesses, throughout the state and in the Capital Region, depends upon having a highly skilled workforce,” said Rooney.

Invest in What Works: Evidence-Based High School Education Models and Rigorous Standards and Assessments

To close the skills gap, the business leaders stressed innovative high school models that help students stay engaged in school so they graduate with a concrete understanding of what they need for post-secondary and workplace success. These models incorporate work-based learning, such as internships that deepen understanding of how academics relate to careers; project-based learning that develops collaborative skills; and significant communications skills, a “soft skill” often lacking in younger workers.

Business leaders cited schools such as Tech Valley High in Albany and several innovative learning models like Expeditionary Learning and Big Picture Learning as best practices that integrate project-based and work-based learning opportunities into the curricula.

“It’s no secret that the nanotech companies coming into the Capital Region will have trouble finding highly skilled workers to fill their job openings,” said CavalierCavalier is also a founder of Tech Valley High and a National Advisory Board Member of America’s Edge.

Business leaders are also urging the state to continue implementation of college-and career-ready standards – the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards – and assessments aligned to those standards to provide students with deeper learning skills that businesses need.  New York’s Common Core Standards are internationally benchmarked so businesses know that their future employees can compete with the world’s best.

“The state is addressing these skills gap issues head-on by increasing the rigor of its academic standards through the new P-12 Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS),” said Johanna Duncan-Poitier.  “New York is also implementing assessment systems aligned to the CCLS and employers will be able to use the data to compare applicants and find qualified candidates who have the desired skill sets.”

Click here to view the report: Ensuring the Capital Region’s Global Success: Reversing our “skills gaps” through high school education models.

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