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Securing a Competitive Future Starts with Closing the Skills Gap

North Carolina is at a critical juncture. While our state continues to top competitive rankings as one of the best states in the nation to do business, employers are facing a grim reality – the jobs of today are not matching the skills of North Carolina’s workforce. The immediate and future consequences of this growing skills gap are steep. Not only does this leave job creators looking for talent in the lurch, but it will cripple North Carolina’s ability to compete in the years to come should it not be addressed.

Business has long understood that our competitive standing in the modern global economy directly correlates to the strength of our education systems and talent supply. Ensuring our education systems are adequately preparing our students for 21st century job opportunities is necessary in order to produce a globally competitive workforce. Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS and NC Chamber board member, discussed this critical issue in his recent LinkedIn blog post, “Education crisis could leave America’s economic engine sputtering.” As Goodnight noted in his post, if we fail to excite and prepare students for future opportunities, the skills gap will widen and our workforce will fall wildly short of the number of workers needed to fill positions. Goodnight even attested to SAS’s own struggle with this fact, “[s]ome of you may know SAS as a renowned employer-of-choice. Yet we struggle to fill certain positions at our company, even taking as long as two years to fill a job. And I know from our customers that they are experiencing similar challenges.”

If we fail to close the skills gap, North Carolina students and businesses will both flounder. Without an education that prepares students for career and college readiness, our students will be unable to fill jobs and our businesses will not be able to compete. As this is a critical issue already affecting North Carolina businesses, there is no time to waste. It is for that reason, one of the NC Chamber’s top priorities is making North Carolina a top-ten state for workforce readiness. We will continue exploring the ways in which we can improve North Carolina’s education and talent supply, vigorously advocating for policies that will close the skills gap long-term.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber