America has struggled with how we create jobs, how we prepare people for jobs, and how we keep jobs here since the Industrial Revolution when we moved from small business owners to employees of large companies. We can't afford to put these decisions off for one more minute or we risk being swamped under by countries who took their economic health seriously.
Today, workforce development and economic develop are all too frequently dependent on accidents of personalities. Successful pockets of prosperity, like Duke Research Triangle or the Harlem Children's Zone, are organic and collaborative. They work best when government is a resource to the solution but the solution itself is rooted in the community. However, we do know what works in general and we do what lessons learned from the ground up:
1. It is vital for communities to understand the knowledge, skills and abilities of their workforce. Their human capital is their most precious natural resource. Workforce development boards, school districts, and colleges must share data for a seamless picture of wages, unemployment, enrollment, and graduation.
2. Update and reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act, a responsibility Congress has ignored since 2005. The act is responsible for the entire unemployment system. To simply allow it to limp along hinders communities ability to plan for long term success.
3. Modernize and incentivize apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs. Programs like these been used for decades as a bridge into the middle class and have provided necessary skilled tradesmen and women so Americans are safer in their homes, at work, on the highways, and in the sky.
4. Move the targeted industries and labor statistics data into the 21st Century by building it on skills clusters and away from industry clusters.
6. Incentivize small business incubators. The return on the investment is dramatic!
7. Set academic, vocational, and therapeutic standards for juvenile justice facilities. Our children should not return to our communities without the knowledge and skills they need to compete, and they should not be warehoused in a way that doesn't help them understand why they did what they did.
8. Require the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Defense to work with unions and employers to develop a nationally recognized certification process for veterans. For example, a shipboard firefighter trained by the United States Navy shouldn't have to enroll in entry level firefighting courses because the state doesn't recognize their military training.
9. Stop using taxpayer dollars to incentivize companies to move from one American city to another. Using taxpayer dollars to steal jobs from other Americans is nonsensical. Use those funds instead to incentivize actual job growth through new businesses and start-ups.
10. Encourage local communities to invest in their own economic infrastructure such as redundant, community-wide Wifi, and access to broad band.
11. Give small businesses access to capital. It is way past time to fix the bank bottleneck so that business can make use of low interest rates, increased global trade opportunities, and a large pool of qualified applicants available for hire.
12. Demand government contracts adhere to their own small business, minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned policies.
13. Put financial literacy and entrepreneurship curriculum in every high school.
14. Invest in innovative teacher-recruiting programs designed to bring Baby Boomers with successful business backgrounds into the classroom.
15. Increase access to and understanding of existing tax incentives such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Federal Bonding for employers.
Americans deserves a system that works together for the good of us all. Our economic health as families, communities, states and as a nation are simply too dangers to continue a haphazard accidental approach or worse yet be ignored entirely.