Did you know that in North Carolina:
- Almost 2.3 million children (under the age of 18) live in the state;
- 39 percent of children live in a household with only one parent;
- 63 percent of eighth graders are below grade level in math;
- 66 percent of fourth graders are reading below grade level
Did you also know that in North Carolina:
- 22% of high school students fail to graduate on time.
- Two thirds of all new jobs created between 2008 and 2018 will require some type of formal education beyond high school.
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs will grow by 17% in between 2008 and 2018, and 91% of STEM jobs will require post-secondary education by 2018.
Developing Necessary Skill Sets
On January 17, 2012, a new survey of North Carolina businesses – released by the state’s Association of Workforce Development Boards – revealed that despite continued high unemployment in the state, employers in that state struggled to find skilled workers to fill current job openings. The report reinforced other findings about workforce skills shortages at the state and national level, and underscored the importance of continued investments in workforce development strategies to maintain U.S. competitiveness.
To overcome the challenges of the skills gap, we must train and re-train our current workforce. We must also develop skills in young people to ensure that they enter the workforce better prepared. To be equipped with the knowledge and abilities businesses now require, students must:
- Master Core Academic Content
- Think Critically and Solve Complex Problems
- Work Collaboratively
- Communicate Effectively
- Learn How to Learn
Innovative education models can help to address the skills gap. Also called “smaller learning communities,” innovative education models such as “Career Academies” integrate career relevance training with a rigorous academic curriculum, equipping students with important skills highly valued by employers. These schools:
- Are comprised of a group of students who take classes together for at least two years and are taught by the same group of teachers
- Provide a college preparatory curriculum based on a career theme that helps students see relationships and connections between academic subjects and their application in the real world.
- Develop partnerships with employers, the community, and colleges.
Our 2013 Policy Priorities
Education policy at the federal and state levels needs to address the range of knowledge and skills needed for all students to be fully ready for college and careers. Policy opportunities include:
- Skill Development
- Measurable Results
- Professional Development and Teaching Practice
In 2013, America’s Edge members will be urging their legislators and Congressional delegation to do the following:
Federal Policy Priorities:
1. Protect Access to High Quality Early Care and Education and Increase Quality of Programs by:
- Fighting against cuts, and where possible seek increases, for Head Start, Early Head Start and both the discretionary and mandatory funding streams of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG);
- Seek quality improvements to early learning programs through reauthorization of Head Start/Early Head Start, and CCDBG);
- Maintain funding for Race to the Top, with focus on funding for Early Learning Challenge program and innovative high school programs;
- Seek funding opportunities for innovative high school programs through ESEA and Perkins Reauthorizations (Tier II);
- Protect the current the structure of the CTC
2. Strengthen our nation’s education system through federal education reform to:
- Provide incentives for States to shift away from the traditional K-12 approach towards an educational system that incorporates early learning into the educational structure so kids are ready to learn and succeed when they enter kindergarten;
- Support innovative high school education models, which can help vulnerable youth develop critical skills and be prepared for careers and/or post-secondary education;
- Improve graduation rates measurement and accountability, including supporting both data systems that can serve as an “early warning system” for kids headed towards dropping out, as well as the use of evidence-based programs to keep kids in school and on the path towards graduation;
- Provide the support of K-12 programs which enhance academic outcomes;
- Creates a system of recruitment, professional development and retention for teachers so that more students – especially those most at-risk for adverse academic outcomes– have access to high-quality teachers; and
- Ensure that, to the maximum extent possible, funds are directed toward evidence-based approaches in the highest-need communities.
AMERICA’S EDGE MEMBERS MEET WITH SENATORS HAGAN AND BURR
On August 6, 2012, America’s Edge members, Tony Marshall, Rick McNeel and Harvey Schmitt met with Senator Kay Hagan to discuss the importance of early learning and innovative high school programs as ways to combat the growing skills gap.
On October 10, 2012, America’s Edge members, Tom Haffner, Tony Marshall, and Rick McNee met with Senator Richard Burr to discuss the economic benefits of early learning and innovative high school education models.
AMERICA’S EDGE MEMBERS RELEASE A NEW REPORT
On March 26, Charlotte business leaders released a report (Click here to view the report) that reveals the financial costs of the state’s “skills gap,” and highlights the abilities that employers say they need in current and future workers. The report shows that if current education and labor market trends continue, North Carolina could face a shortage of 46,000 workers in the coming years, due largely to the gap between the jobs that require certain skills and/or post-secondary education, and the number of residents who will be prepared to fill them.
The America’s Edge report details the proven impact of innovative high school education models in preparing students for current and future jobs, and high-quality early learning programs to give children a foundation for long-term academic achievement. The business leaders also noted that the state will not need to wait 20 years for the benefits from early learning, citing surprising new research showing that investments in quality early learning will yield an immediate economic benefit for North Carolina businesses.
America’s Edge Members
On November 13, 2012, six North Carolina business leaders released a new report at a press conference in Raleigh, which highlighted the short- and long-term economic benefits of investments in early care and education.
Watch the entire press conference below:
AMERICA’S EDGE IN THE NEWS
- April 3, 2013. Elkins, Ken. “Worker shortage ahead, ‘skills gap’ study says.” Charlotte Business Journal.
- March 27, 2013. Robert, Deon. Charlotte business leaders fret over ‘skills gap’.” The Charlotte Observer.
- March 27, 2013. Robert, Deon. “Charlotte, NC, Business leaders fret over ‘skills gap’.” ENR Southeast.
- March 15, 2013. Fryland, Paula. “Helping children is the best investment NC can make.” News & Observer.
- November 23, 2013. Gantt, Scott. “NC can’t afford to cut childhood programs.” Charlotte Business Journal.
- November 13, 2012. Berg, Brenda. “Early childhood education. Worth all the dollars?” Triangle Business Journal.
- November 7, 2013. Ohnesorge, Lauren K. “Election over: Tech industry filled with uncertainty.” Triangle Business Journal.
- July 10, 2012. Schwartz, Drew. Emphasize work skills in school.” USA Today.
- May 28, 2012. Schwartz, Drew. “Introduce technical skills in high school.” Charlotte Observer.
- May 25, 2012. Schmitt, Harvey. “Ripple effects of early learning.” Triangle Business Journal.
- April 15, 2012. Haffner, Tom. “Career academies are good education reform.” Charlotte Observer.
*For more information, contact National Director, Susan Gates.
Phone: (202) 408-9284