Washington, D.C. — Business Forward Foundation issued a new report on how educators, business leaders, and community officials can use the future of work as a road map for approaching education reform. High School & the Future of Work explains how our schools are underperforming, what it means for our labor market and economy, and why addressing both problems as early as possible is critical to promoting equity and security for American families.
“We cannot improve our K-12 system — particularly the high school curriculum — without focusing on preparing graduates for the future of work. We also cannot adequately prepare workers if we wait until students leave high school,” explained Liz Fairchild, Executive Director of Business Forward, “The two problems are related, dependent, and reinforcing.”
In a recent briefing with Business Forward, former U.S. Secretary of Education, John King, discussed the relationship between education, workforce development, and small business: “As I think about what education means for small businesses and for economic development, there’s just no question that having a workforce that is well prepared is essential to the health of our economy.”
The COVID-19 pandemic damaged the health of our economy; one of the most concerning trends was in educational attainment. “Compared to before the pandemic, 17% more students in schools serving predominantly Black children are two or more grade levels behind in math,” said Fairchild. “We need to be proactive in helping students in underserved communities get the support they need.”
Fairchild added, “There’s a real opportunity right now to let the future of work inform our approach. We know what our students need: basic technical skills, the ability to learn continuously, strong teamwork and judgment, and self-reliance. We must prepare our kids to be able to move through jobs quicker, re-skill when necessary, and take advantage of new technologies.”
To learn more, download the new report and see the latest update in our Answering America series on the digital revolution. You can also listen to the latest Business Forward briefing with former Education Secretary John King and our conversation with Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves.
ABOUT BUSINESS FORWARD FOUNDATION
The Business Forward Foundation is an independent research and education organization that takes a business-minded look at policy issues affecting America’s economic competitiveness. Our work combines insights and advice from business leaders across the country with rigorous policy analysis. Through white papers, issue briefs, conference calls, and other events, we educate policy makers and the public about climate change, immigration reform, infrastructure investment, the future of work, and other critical issues.