Education Opinion

Published Report Identifies Steps to Close Skills Gap for Low-Income Students

By Matthew Lynch — June 24, 2015 2 min read
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This week, the GE Foundation released a solutions-driven white paper, titled “The Skills Gap and the New Economy: Implications for Low-Income Students,” that outlines strategic steps needed to help low-income students succeed in college and career.

According to the white paper, “Right now millions of young people are struggling to find good jobs and to launch successful careers, while thousands of companies are unable to expand and innovate because they cannot fill critical positions.”

By 2018 nearly 65 percent of the 47 million job openings in the United States will require some kind of post-secondary education, but there will be a shortfall of three million individuals with the appropriate level of education to fill them.

The white paper is the result of a two-day global summit co-sponsored by College For Every Student and Trinity College Dublin that gathered 55 education, corporate, philanthropic leaders and policy makers in Essex, NY.

“Corporate volunteers make ideal mentors for our low-income students,” said Rick Dalton, President & CEO of the 24-year-old non-profit College For Every Student that helps low-income students prepare for college and career success. “These mentors can help students acquire the skills, training, and postsecondary degrees they need for jobs in the new economy.”

Six years ago, College For Every Student and EY developed the College MAP (Mentoring for Access & Persistence) program that now serves more than 1,000 low-income high school students in nearly 30 cities across the United States.

According to Gary Belske, COO at EY, “It is not enough to just get low-income students into college. They need more guidance on what career options/education skills they should be considering to position themselves for the quickly evolving job market. This takes mentors that understand the skills needed and related job opportunities available.”

Implementing Strategies to Close the Skills Gap

The white paper offers four strategies that are targeted at low-income students to close the skills gap: match students with mentors; broaden career knowledge; build STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) awareness and readiness; develop the “Essential Skills,” (leadership, teamwork, grit and other competencies).

At the summit, participants heard from Kelli Wells, GE Foundation’s Executive Director of Education, George Pataki, presidential candidate and former NY Governor, Pasi Sahlberg, Harvard Graduate School of Education professor, Dean Garfield, CEO & President of the Information Technology Industry Council, Tom Boland, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority in Ireland, and Bill Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid at Harvard College.

College For Every Student and Trinity College Dublin have committed to creating 100 new business/education partnerships in the United States, Ireland and other countries over the next 24 months.

You can read the white paper on www.collegefes.org

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