Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (April 1, 2019) — The National School Boards Association (NSBA) today released “A Report of the Commission to Close the Skills Gap,” a joint initiative with more than ten leading industry groups. NSBA announced the report at its Annual Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to an audience of more than 5,000 school board members from across the country.

The report identifies six “LifeReady Skills” and features recommendations to help school districts ensure that students have every opportunity to learn these important skills. The Commission believes that high school graduates who have these LifeReady skills will be better prepared for (or have the tools to succeed in) college, career and life. 

The LifeReady Skills highlighted in the report include*:

  • Dependability and reliability
  • Critical thinking
  • Customer focus
  • Teamwork

*Six of 24 top employability skills as cited by the National Network of Business and Industry Associations, part of the Business Roundtable.

For the first time in decades there are far more jobs that exist across the nation than interested or qualified workers to fill them. As of January 2019, the number of job openings reached a high of 7.3 million, and that number is expected to double in the next five years. Entry and mid-level positions that need a high school diploma, yet do not require a college degree, have the largest number of vacancies.

NSBA convened the leadership of major business trade and membership organizations to form the NSBA Commission to Close the Skills Gap and highlight this growing issue, which has created a workforce crisis.

“As the leading advocate for public education, this issue is of serious concern to NSBA and school board members across the country,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Thomas J. Gentzel. “School board members are in a unique position to take action.  And the business and trade association members on the commission are committed to working with us to ensure that all students can graduate with the skills they need to succeed no matter what life choices they make.”

Industry members on the Commission include:

  • American Health Information Management Association
  • American Hotel & Lodging Association
  • American Public Transportation Association
  • Center for Energy Workforce Development
  • Manufacturing Institute
  • National Restaurant Association
  • National Retail Federation
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation 

“The health information profession has a long career ladder, stretching from high school through the highest level of post-secondary education,” said Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE; chief executive officer of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). “AHIMA appreciates that the work of the Skills Gap Commission can help us identify the earliest steps on the ladder, such as health information management-related (HIM) certificates that can be earned during high school. Such thinking can help the profession create a robust set of career options that will ultimately lead to a stronger HIM workforce.”

“Technology powers virtually every sector of our economy; from advanced manufacturing techniques and innovations in transportation, to smarter, more livable communities, to advances in education, energy and healthcare,” said Kirk Smallwood, vice president of business development for CompTIA. “But skills gaps in the tech sector and other industries have the very real potential to slow down our ability to innovate. The NSBA’s recommendation on ‘LifeReady Skills’ has the potential to significantly close those gaps. CompTIA is committed to doing its part to equip today’s student with the skills they’ll use as tomorrow’s leaders.”

“The LifeReady Skills outlined in this report correlate strongly with the priorities of manufacturers and the attributes they look for when hiring tomorrow’s workforce,” said Carolyn Lee, executive director of Manufacturing Institute. “These skills also offer a blueprint for today’s students on the what they will need as they transition from school to their careers. We believe that the important steps taken today will help address the workforce crisis currently facing manufacturers across the country.”This joint report from NSBA is critical to addressing the skills gap that currently exists across the country,” said Rob Gifford, executive vice president, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. We are excited to partner with these leading organizations to help young people receive the skills they need to succeed and develop a well-trained workforce, especially in the restaurant industry, which offers abundant career paths and where 40 percent of our workforce is comprised of 16 to 24-year-olds.”

Around NSBA

It's Time for a Great IDEA!

Originally signed into law in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the main federal statute governing special education for children. Today, IDEA protects the rights of over six million students with disabilities (approximately 13.5 percent of students) to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education in the least restrictive environment. NSBA urges the federal government to modernize and fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Act. We've recently launched a new initiative to highlight this critical need and help ensure our country’s students with disabilities receive the access and supports they need to succeed.

NSBA Names Chip Slaven Chief Advocacy Officer

NSBA today announced that Stuart “Chip” Slaven has joined the association as Chief Advocacy Officer. Slaven will lead the Federal Advocacy & Public Policy group, which represents state school board associations and their members before the U.S. Congress and the Administration. Slaven is a government relations veteran who brings passion and extensive experience to drive our vision for public education forward.