June 22-26, 2001

 
 
ADOPTED RESOLUTIONS: JOBS, EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE

21ST CENTURY WORKFORCE AND THE NEED FOR NATIONAL WORKFORCE POLICY

WHEREAS, there is a general consensus among public and private sector analysts that the demand for skilled workers in the U.S. economy has been outpacing the supply, and that the demand for skills will continue to grow rapidly in the years ahead; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. Conference of Mayors with the support of the U.S. Department of Labor, is leading a national initiative on the skills gap through the Mayors' Skills Summits which are being held in cities across the country this year and are calling attention to regional labor market issues including the widening skills gap and bringing best practices, innovative solutions and priorities in workforce development to the Administration and the Congress; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. Conference of Mayors June 2000 survey

Examining Skills Shortages in America's Cities, states that 90 percent of mayors reported that training the workforce to stay competitive in a changing economy is a challenge and 72 percent of mayors reported that this challenge has grown over the past decade in; and

WHEREAS, despite recent changes in the marketplace, an April 2001 study by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) finds that the demand for IT workers in the new economy remains strong and reports that companies surveyed hope to hire 900,000 workers this year. Of this total, 425,000 positions will go unfilled because of a lack of applicants with the required technical and non-technical skills; and

WHEREAS, the biggest challenge facing manufacturers is finding workers with the skills required in today's manufacturing world, approximately 90 percent of manufacturers report difficulties in finding qualified candidates in at least one job function according to a recent survey by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM); and

WHEREAS, almost one in four American adults has very low basic skills and according to a survey by the American Management Association (AMA) over 38 percent of job applicants tested for basic skills by U.S. corporations in 1999 lacked the necessary reading, writing and math skills to do the jobs they sought; and

WHEREAS, the nation's next generation of workers is the rapidly growing youth population (ages 16 - 24) which is projected to increase by nearly 7 million by 2010 and in 1999, this nation had 5.4 million 16 - 24 year old jobless high school graduates and dropouts; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. Department of Labor predicts the number of American workers age 55 years and older will increase by 38 percent by 2005 and employers will need to make better use of the aging workforce which has different needs; and

WHEREAS, the new Census data indicates the immigrant population in our nation's workforce is significant and growing and the contribution of these new Americans to the workforce and the economy requires effective strategies to respond to their needs including a responsiveness to languages and cultures; and

WHEREAS, our nation's workforce is growing increasingly mobile, for example at the Prudential Insurance Company of America in Newark, New Jersey, the portion of the information technology (IT) budget devoted to mobile workers has gone from approximately 5 percent in 1997 to around 20 percent today and these workers have a new set of needs; and

WHEREAS, it is critical to both ensure that low-skilled or unskilled workers get into the labor market, and that workers at all levels receive the education and training necessary to allow them full and continuing participation in the thriving economy; and

WHEREAS, it is critical that there is a continuum of life-long learning for all Americans especially for people leaving welfare for work and entry level workers, and it is critical that a life-long learning strategy be part of a national workforce policy and be constantly reflective of the needs of business today and future needs; and

WHEREAS, the ability to attract and retain quality workers with the skills needed by corporate America and all employers, and the infrastructure to ensure that the workforce investment system is responsive to the needs of employers is essential to the continued growth of our nation's economy; and

WHEREAS, skilled workers are critical to a thriving economy and employers only want to locate where they can find skilled employees and training opportunities to develop skilled workers; and

WHEREAS, the workforce investment system under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) is focused on keeping businesses competitive and in line with local economic development strategies; and

WHEREAS, WIA contains activities such as preparation of the workforce, the delivery of training and education services leading to self-sufficiency, career planning, and life-long learning, and recognizes that chief local elected officials and their appointed local workforce investment boards are responsible for creating a workforce system that responds to local labor markets, local employers and residents, and local economic development strategies; and

WHEREAS, in response to the need for a national workforce policy, the Regional Mayors' Skills Summits are bringing the private sector and mayors together with Workforce Investment Boards, educators, unions and community to address the need for investment in skills of the workforce; and

WHEREAS, the Administration, under the leadership of Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, has established the Office of the 21st Century Workforce "to provide hope - to ensure that all American workers have the opportunity to equip themselves with the necessary tools to succeed in their careers and in whatever field they choose in this new and dynamic global economy" and the Secretary has called for a fundamental transformation for all industries and higher skill sets and higher education,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on Congress, the Administration, the private sector and all stakeholders to review and respond to the findings of the Mayors' Skills Summits and to partner to develop a national workforce policy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon the Administration and U.S. Department of Labor to provide mayors with a major role in the Department of Labor's Office of the 21st Century Workforce and in any new workforce policy especially in the examination of direct funding to cities and participation with the business community; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that with the ongoing, tremendous change in the workforce and the need to address the new challenges, The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on Congress and the Administration to provide resources and support investments in the infrastructure of the workforce investment system to meet the needs of employers and the workforce in the 21st century economy.