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From education to employment: make your voice heard

It’s no secret that jobs are hard to fill these days. A better employment education ecosystem could help alleviate this burden for employers in general and small businesses in particular.

Educators, congressional representatives, and federal, state, and local government leaders are open to hearing from HR professionals about what needs to change to get more students ready to join and thrive in the marketplace. work. Three panelists spoke on the topic at “E-Squared: Education to Employment—Building a Talent Development Ecosystem That Works for All,” a June 12 mega session at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo in New Orleans.

“Don’t be shy” to make your needs known, said former Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala.

Byrne has over two decades of public service with first-hand experience expanding the talent pool and shaping policy at all levels of government. He was an elected member of the Alabama State Board of Education and the Alabama State Senate and served as Chancellor of Alabama’s two-year college system.

He served four terms in the United States House of Representatives. His background in education and as a labor and employment attorney made him a natural fit for the Committee on Education and Labor, where he worked on important issues with the U.S. Department of Education and advanced federal policy to support workforce training and apprenticeship programs.

Community colleges, in particular, listen to advice from the workforce, Byrne noted. “Tell them the skills you need,” he recommended, and employers might end up with students who have them.

The university is aimed at employers

At Strayer University, which has 60 campuses, university administrators have seen a disconnect between education and the workforce. “Relevance isn’t always green” but rather “always changing,” said Andrea Backman, president of Strayer.

After talking with employers about their needs, “we took the general curriculum and tore it apart,” she said. For example, history is no longer taught in isolation; instead, history and productivity are taught in tandem.

Backman previously served as Director of Employability for Strayer’s parent company, Strategic Education Inc., where she focused on bridging the gap between graduates and employers and ensuring students get a positive return on their investment in education. Strayer educates many working mothers, students who have returned to school after leaving the education system, and people who were previously incarcerated.

Backman said the university has a “huge talent pool” and wants to connect its students with employers to provide them with a “pathway to a better life.”

Tell Congress what works and what doesn’t

Rep. Troy Carter, D-La., urged attendees to tell their reps “what works and what doesn’t. We’re here to help.”

Carter also urged employers to offer more paid internships, noting that many students cannot afford unpaid internships.

He added that “more people should tell students what they are doing wrong instead of always telling students what they are doing right”. Carter explained that students need to know that “the road to success is strewn with failures, and that’s OK.”

Volunteer

Emily M. Dickens, JD, Chief of Staff, Chief of Government Affairs and Secretary General of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), moderated the session. She noted that the SHRM Foundation has an apprenticeship program for HR professionals.

She urged participants to make their voices heard, whether by joining workforce development councils or running for school board, city council or other elected office.

The time offered in this way — earning a seat at the table — is critically important in giving more voice to the concerns of HR professionals, Dickens noted.

Shannon Gordon, CEO of River Edge Behavioral Health in Macon, Georgia, serves as chair of her community’s Workforce Council. She said SHRM conference today that she thinks employers could do a better job of hiring people who have been unemployed for a long time.

Byrne said what’s great about the United States “is our people. Pay attention on every level. There’s no reason we can’t get bigger.”

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