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President Trump signs an executive order during the White House's job creation pledge event on July 19, 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The White House recently announced an effort to promote high-tech worker retraining for the workplaces of the future.

Why it matters: The U.S. does not have a talent development system for “middle skills” jobs — those that require more education and training than a high school diploma but less than a 4-year college degree — which is no small problem, since only one-third of Americans over age 25 are college graduates.

The details: The administration’s plan takes two important steps toward filling the skills gap:

  1. Fostering industry-led apprenticeships: Staffing more occupations through apprenticeships would alleviate the growing talent shortage and create attractive opportunities for hundreds of thousands of workers annually. The administration’s proposed class of apprenticeships — created for and by industries rather than following existing federal guidelines that do not apply across sectors — could produce workers trained for long-term success.
  2. Closing the information gap: Students and the unemployed need to be able to count on accurate information about job requirements. Too often, they squander federal grants or loans on programs that either aren’t related to available jobs or don’t develop the skills employers actually require. While the administration hasn’t specified an implementation program, its instinct to improve the quality and accessibility of information is right.

Yes, but: The administration’s focus on federal programs and policy presumes a central role for the government in restoring America’s skills base. Yet companies have shown a willingness to invest in training outside of their own workforces and should be allowed to play a leading role.

  • JPMorgan Chase launched a program in 2013 to close the middle skills gap in nine U.S. cities. It has worked with businesses, education and training institutions, and community organizations to create a financial services careers website focused in New York and career-oriented tracks in New Orleans’ charter schools.
  • Walmart has developed industry-wide credentials that would be recognized by employers nationwide, enabling workers to transition between retail companies to more advanced roles.
  • The Center for Energy Workforce Development, a consortium of power utilities and their associations, identified upcoming skills shortages and the competencies required to fill them, ensuring the utility linesmen, technicians and operators of the future have the training and education they need.

What’s next: The formation of this council and vague commitments by employers to “create” 500,000 jobs amount to, at best, a call to action. If the council can formulate concrete next steps — particularly in disseminating current, curated information on the labor market — that help the private sector advance these shared goals, this initiative will be an important step.

Joe Fuller is Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School, where he co-leads Managing the Future of Work and hosts the program’s podcast.

Go deeper: “Room to Grow” and “Bridge the Gap” reports at HBS

Go deeper

Educators face fines, harassment over critical race theory

People talk before the start of a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Va. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Elementary school teachers, administrators and college professors are facing fines, physical threats, and fear of firing because of an organized push from the right to remove classroom discussions of systemic racism.

Why it matters: Moves to ban critical race theory are raising free speech concerns amid an absence of consistent parameters about what teachings are in or out of bounds.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

1 dead after pickup truck hits Pride spectators in Florida

Police investigate the scene where a pickup truck drove into a crowd of people at a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

A driver in a pickup truck hit spectators at a Pride festival in Wilton Manors, Florida, killing a man and leaving another person hospitalized Saturday, authorities said.

Details: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters police had "apprehended the driver" and that the vehicle missed a parade car carrying Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) "by inches."

Updated 9 hours ago - Sports

Uganda Olympic team member tests positive for COVID in Tokyo

The Uganda National boxing team's Catherine Nanziri (L) and others arrive for check-in at Entebbe international airport in Wakiso, Uganda on Friday, ahead of their departure to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo: Badru Katumba/AFP via Getty Images

A Uganda Olympic team member tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan late Saturday, officials said.

Why it matters: Japan's government has faced criticism for vowing to host the Tokyo Games next month as coronavirus cases rise. The Ugandan team is the second to arrive in Japan after the Australian women's softball players, and this is the first COVID-19 infection detected among the Olympic athletes, Al Jazeera notes.