How is your business engaged in helping education?

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Utah’s economic success has been attributed to a well-qualified and educated workforce. Businesses have recognized that and have been engaging for years. We want to know how yourbusiness engages.

As the Salt Lake Chamber, we have partnered with chambers of commerce and business associations from all over Utah in a movement to strengthen our economy and our business community through improving education–Prosperity 2020.

As a coalition of business people, executives and 21 chambers of commerce across the state, we believe that improving education outcomes is at the heart of our development and opportunity as a state. We believe that building and sustaining the strongest economy in the nation requires innovation, accountability, and investment in education.

Both the Salt Lake Chamber and Prosperity 2020 are interested in understanding how Utah companies are affected by education and also how business people are engaged in building the workforce of tomorrow. We invite you to take just a few minutes of your time to complete this survey: http://bit.ly/P2020Survey

Your feedback is invaluable as we will use this data to develop Chamber’s policy position and assist in the development of education policy. Thank you for helping us gain a clearer picture of the network of ties between education, the workforce and business.

Responses to the survey will help to increase understanding of these efforts to support the development of Utah’s future workforce. Survey results will allow us to share exemplary efforts with the community. We also want to feature your business in Salt Lake Chamber news outlets such as the Utah Business Report, newsletters, social media and websites.

Again, we’d like to ask you to please take this survey to help us gauge how you are or would like to be involved in education by July 23http://bit.ly/P2020Survey

The survey is also an opportunity for those who have interest in getting engaged to learn more about the opportunities to impact strategic state goals to improve education outcomes.

We’re all in for education in Utah!

Public Policy – July Update

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

As the “Voice of Business” and Utah’s statewide Chamber, the Salt Lake Chamber leads out on critical issues that impact Utah businesses and our community. In the coming weeks, here is how we plan to “move the dial” to grow our economy, promote community prosperity and champion business in Utah, as well as ways for you to participate.

Public Policy

The Salt Lake Chamber has named Rich Walje, President and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power as Public Policy Chair starting July 1, 2014. The Policy Chair is an Executive Board member which guides the Chamber’s various public policy initiatives and acts as a liaison with the Executive Board on policy.

“The Salt Lake Chamber fills an essential role in our community as the voice of business on public policy issues. Apart from narrowly-focused industry associations, the Chamber gives a voice to broad-based business issues in the community and on the Hill,” said Walje.

Additionally, Chris Gamvroulas, President Ivory Development and Ivory Homes, was also named Vice Chair, Public Policy. Walje has set an aggressive agenda for the coming year for improving the chamber’s efforts in public policy and strengthening influence on key policy issues.

The Executive Board is the only policy body of the Salt Lake Chamber responsible for the Chamber’s commercial, industrial, public, legislative and financial policies. The Executive Board consists of members of the Board of Governors and the Downtown Alliance Board of Trustees. All of the Chamber’s extensive policy task forces and committees are advisory to the Executive Board through the Public Policy Chair.

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Clean Air

We all have a role in keeping our air clean. Businesses, citizens and government share our roads and breathe the same air. We should all do our part clean our air and the Clear the Air Challenge is perfect opportunity to show that you care about air quality! This statewide Challenge begins on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

1. Remember, it’s all about driving smarter and driving less. Find out how your company and employees can participate at www.cleartheairchallenge.org.

If you have any other questions, concerns or comments about the Clear the Air Challenge, feel free to reach out to Ben Hoyle at 801.328.5056 or bhoyle@slchamber.com.

Also – our next Clean Air Task Force meeting will be Wednesday, August 13, at 7:30-9:00 a.m. with the Chamber’s Natural Resources Business Council. For more information about the task force, please contact Ryan Evans at 801.328.5063 or revans@slchamber.com.

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Capitol Club

“The Salt Lake Chamber Capitol Club gives business professionals unrivaled access to Utah’s leaders,” said Dan Harbeke, director public affairs of Union Pacific Railroad. “If you are interested in an inside look to how policy in Utah works, I’d encourage you to join.”

The Capitol Club provides the opportunity to gain professional development in public policy, public affairs and  especially for those interested in the policy issues affecting Utah’s business community. The next Capitol Club event will be Monday, July 16, with the newly appointed executive director of the Utah Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR), Ivy Estabrooke.

If you are interested in participating in Capitol Club contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Regulation

We advocate for simplified and reasonable regulation as well as predictable and certain laws, so rational people can be confident in deploying resources into a productive economy. To that end we are partnering with Sen. Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and the Utah Association of Counties for the Utah Solutions Summit on Thursday, August 21, 2014 to discuss the vast and uncertain regulatory burden under which businesses are required to comply and develop solutions to move our economy forward.

We will have more information about the Solutions Summit, including sponsorship opportunities, in the coming days. If you have any other questions, concerns or comments, feel free to reach out to Justin Jones at 801.558-9371 or jjones@slchamber.com.

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Water

We invite you to join business and community leaders to discuss the importance of water infrastructure and the impact of water availability on our economy, business environment and economic development efforts, as well as how Utah businesses are making a difference with “Utah: Water is Your Business Week,” which will take place the week of August 4 – 8, 2014. This will include a number of items including the launch of Chamber’s Water Task Force.

We are looking for great stories about how your business is practicing water management and conservation. We invite you to join in sponsoring this great event. For more information and to share your company’s water stories, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Prosperity 2020

The Salt Lake Chamber has partnered with chambers of commerce and business associations from all over Utah in a movement called Prosperity 2020 to strengthen our economy by improving education. Prosperity 2020 is currently working towards an Education Forum later this fall as well as working closely with the Legislature’s Education Task Force. The next Prosperity 2020 Founders Council meeting is Monday, August 25 at 1:00-2:30 p.m.

To become involved in Prosperity 2020, please contact Jana Scott at 801-328-5043 or jscott@prosperity2020.com.

Additionally, the Prosperity 2020 Business Promise seeks to deploy 20,200 volunteers into Utah’s school system. If your business is interested in taking a more active role to support education, please contact Julie Johnsson at 801.328.5082 or jjohnsson@slchamber.com.

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Utah Transportation Coalition

On June 23, the Utah Transportation Coalition held the 2014 Open House with terrific presentations from UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras, Utah Transit Authority General Manager Michael Allegra, and House Transportation Committee Chair and Interim Transportation Committee Co-Chair Rep. Johnny Anderson. The event is just one of dozens the Utah Transportation Coalition hosts every year to promote continued investment in Utah’s transportation infrastructure. These events are reserved or significantly discounted for Coalition members and include an upcoming Mountain Transportation event that we will have more details on in the coming weeks.

The Coalition is currently looking for new members to collaborate with our partners to make smart and sustainable transportation choices and to secure adequate, stable and long-term funding to support a high quality of life and economic growth in Utah.

If your company is interested in participating, contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Natural Resources Business Council

Our Natural Resources Business Council (Council) is an inclusive approach to multiple sectors of Utah’s economy including the Chamber’s Water, Clean Air, Energy and Minerals, and Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Task Forces. This past month the Council heard presentations on the nexus between transportation and the NRBC, as well as the possibility of developing a Chamber corporate sustainability report.

The next Council meeting will be on Wednesday, August 13 at 7:30-9:00 a.m. For more information, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

The Salt Lake Chamber held its first Outdoor Recreation and Tourism meeting on June 5 with an industry focus group to better understand the needs of this critical asset to Utah’s economy. The groups discussed challenges with regulation, coordination with our economic development partners and perceptual issues faced by Utah’s tourism industry. We want to thank all of our participants.

The Chamber will be working closely with the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, Office of Tourism Global Branding on a number of events in the coming months and establish an ongoing task force. If you would like to participate in future events, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Energy and Minerals

Utah’s rich and diverse energy sector is one key reason behind our state’s thriving economy and the third annual Utah Governor’s Energy Development Summit on June 3-4, 2014, honored that contribution by setting the stage for the sector to continue to power our state’s economy. The Salt Lake Chamber welcomed the opportunity to support the summit. Read more about the summit.

To build on the summit, the Energy and Minerals Task Force meeting on Wednesday, July 9 at 8:00 a.m. will receive a briefing on the Utah Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan from the Office of Energy Development and a presentation on clean energy technology start-ups. For more information, please contact Michael Merrill at 801-328.5068 or mmerrill@slchamber.com.

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Health System Reform

The Salt Lake Chamber in collaboration the Utah Hospital Association, American Cancer Association, AARP of Utah, Voices for Utah Children and Utah Health Policy Project sponsored a phone and email survey to better understand the public’s sentiment of the Governor’s “Healthy Utah Plan.”

A poll of 623 registered voters in May and June by Dan Jones & Associates found:

• 88 percent favor Herbert’s “Healthy Utah” plan over doing nothing.
• 70 percent prefer Herbert’s plan to a straightforward Medicaid expansion as envisioned by the Affordable Care Act.
• 59 percent say they support or strongly support Herbert’s plan.

The Health System Reform Task Force received a briefing on this polling data at our June 26 meeting and you can read about the results here.

The next Health System Reform task force will be Thursday, August 28, at 8:00 a.m. If you would like to participate in future Health System Reform events, please contact Justin Jones at 801.328.5071 or jjones@slchamber.com.

 

Downtown Alliance

Join the Downtown Alliance on Friday, July 11, for the 2014 State of Downtown, which celebrates our evolving urban center. Downtown is in the midst of a remarkable transformation with new residents, businesses and buildings shaping our urban fabric. This event will highlight these dramatic changes and forecast our future.

Also at the 2014 State of Downtown, the Downtown Alliance will be releasing the 2013 Economic Benchmark Report for downtown Salt Lake City, which presents facts about the downtown economy to stakeholders, property owners, tenants, investors, developers, retailers, brokers, theaters, museums, policy makers and civic leaders. You can read the 2012 report here.

If you would like to participate in future Downtown Alliance events, please contact Jesse Dean at 801-328.5045 or jesse@downtownslc.org.

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International – World Trade Center

Derek Miller, former chief of staff to Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert, has been named president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, a licensed and certified member of the World Trade Centers Association, which is headquartered in New York City.

The World Trade Center Utah is strategic partner of the Salt Lake Chamber and you can read more about Derek’s appointment here.

On September 24, 2014, Utah will host the first of its kind Global Forum. Topics will include Building a Global Brand; Doing Business in Europe, Mexico, Canada, and China; Shared Stories of Success from Utah companies abroad; Financing Your Global Expansion; and Global Operational Efficiency Through Sound Legal, Tax and Accounting Practices.

If you’re thinking about exporting, looking to invest in one of the fastest growing economies in the United States or seeking inspiration to take your business to the next level, you won’t want to miss out. Visit wtcutah.com.

Utah unemployment lowest since 2008

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The numbers are in. Utah has the lowest unemployment rate it has seen since before the recession–3.6 percent. This is a 0.2 percent drop from April.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) released the numbers for May on Friday. With a modest rise of 37,500 jobs from May of last year, Utah’s non-farm payroll employment grew by an estimated 2.9 percent. DWS reports that approximately 52,000 Utahns were unemployed and actively looking for a job last month. This is the kind of slow and steady improvement that proves Utah is doing something right.

“Strong economies don’t occur by accident,” said Natalie Gochnour, the Chamber’s chief economist and associate dean of the David Eccles School of Business. “Utah has a vibrant economy because Utah companies and the workers they employ create value. Elected officials have also helped by creating a business-minded environment with appropriate infrastructure investment and a reasonable tax and regulatory structure.”

“The advantage Utah has is its broad range of industries, many of which are performing well,” said Salt Lake Chamber president and CEO Lane Beattie. “It’s encouraging to see numbers like these come out and show that Utah is ahead of the curve, creating jobs, and proving itself as a great place to live and work with ample opportunity.”

DWS also reported growth in all 10 private sector industries groups, each posting net job increases. The largest increases were in trade, transportation and utilities (9,800), followed by construction (5,400) and even government (5,200). These numbers continue to show that Utah is showing steady and varied growth across all industries–something that the strength of our economy depends on.

On a national scale, the unemployment rate didn’t budge from 6.3 percent, further proving that Utah is performing well.

“While we have the third lowest unemployment rate and the fourth highest job growth rate of any state, it’s even more important that our growth is distributed across a broad spectrum of industries,” said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

“The goal is to have balanced, strong and consistent economic growth and that’s exactly what we have in Utah,” said Juliette Tennert, chief economist for the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

The Salt Lake Chamber joins with Gov. Gary Herbert to make job creation a top priority. We support the governor’s plan to facilitate the creation of 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. As of May 2014, Utah has created 103,000 jobs since November 2011, reaching this goal well ahead of schedule. The Chamber also has a complementary private sector job creation plan, the Utah Jobs Agenda. This year, Utah’s private sector is set to achieve the Utah Jobs Agenda goal of creating 150,000 jobs in five years—more than a year ahead of schedule. We will continue to make job creation a major focus.

Clear the Air Challenge aims high for 2014

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The 6th Annual Clear the Air Challenge is starting again in Utah this July—with goals to take it further than any year prior and new tools to help make it possible. The Clear the Air Challenge will take place July 1 – 31, 2014.

“We’ve had big successes in the past, but we can and will strengthen our efforts this year,” said Jonathan Johnson, Chairman of the Board of Overstock.com. “During the month-long Clear the Air Challenge, we encourage Utahns to drive less and drive smarter to reduce vehicle emissions and collectively improve Utah’s air quality. Each trip saved makes a difference to the quality of our air.”

The Clear the Air Challenge goals for this year aim to:
• Eliminate 250,000 vehicle trips (up from the 176,000 trips eliminated last year)
• Save 2 million vehicle miles driven (up from the 1.9 million miles saved last year)
• Engage 10,000 participants (up from the 8,400 participants last year)

Over the past five years, Clear the Air Challenge participants have saved more than 7.1 million vehicle miles traveled, saving more than nine million pounds of emissions and eliminating more than 600,000 car trips. We encourage people and businesses throughout Utah to take the Challenge this summer to increase those numbers even further, to make an even bigger difference in Utah’s overall air quality.

Thanks to a partnership with UDOT TravelWise and a grant from UCAIR, the Challenge invested in new tracking technology this year that makes logging your trips saved faster and easier—from your mobile device or computer. There is a built-in trip planner as part of the new tracker. Anyone can enter in a starting and ending location and receive carpool options, transit routes, or biking and walking routes. The new tracker gives the amount of emissions you’ll save and the time it will take to make your trip. The new tracker also integrates with social media and participants can, for example, share a trip saved on Facebook. Through this new tool, the Challenge hopes more people who don’t typically use transit or carpool programs see other options to get to their destinations. The new tracker can be found at ClearTheAirChallenge.org.

To encourage people to use transit, Utah Transit Authority is giving away 4,500 RideClear passes during the month randomly via Twitter.  Additionally, the Challenge has also established a partnership with Enterprise CarShare whereby they will provide Challenge participants usage of their cars in July.

By participating in the Challenge and tracking your miles saved, participants are eligible for great prizes from Clear the Air Challenge sponsors, from bikes, skis, clothing, gift cards and much more.

“The Clear the Air Challenge is the perfect opportunity for people in SLC, Ogden, Logan, Provo, Moab, St. George—everywhere,” said Amanda Smith, Executive Director, Utah Department of Environmental Quality. “We all need to think about how we travel and how it impacts the air we breathe.”

The Clear the Air Challenge is an excellent time to try new ways of transportation – from your daily commute to family errands. Our communities are changing quickly making alternative transportation easier and faster. These small personal actions add up to cleaner air for everyone.

You can sign up for the Clear the Air Challenge, join a team and start tracking your miles saved at www.cleartheairchallenge.org.

A big thank you goes to the sponsors of the Clear the Air Challenge for making it possible this year: Salt Lake Chamber, TravelWise, UCAIR, Fidelity Investments, Penna Power Brian Hayes, RioTinto, Overstock.com, UTA, Zions Bank and Enterprise CarShare.

Governor’s Energy Development Summit powers Utah’s economy

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Utah’s rich and diverse energy sector is one key reason behind our state’s thriving economy and the third annual Utah Governor’s Energy Development Summit honored that contribution, setting the stage for the sector to continue to power our state’s economy.

Co-sponsored by the Salt Lake Chamber, the summit was held June 3-4 at the Salt Palace Convention center in downtown Salt Lake City. The conference recognized and shared the state’s current energy objectives and future opportunities, providing a critical forum through which industry, government and stakeholders discussed the state’s most significant energy concerns and emerging issues. The conference also encouraged attendance and participation from individuals with a variety of interests and focuses, and presented them with valuable networking opportunities, forums for dialogue, project updates and policy insights.

The Energy Development Summit is a key objective in  Gov. Gary R. Herbert’s 10-Year strategic plan and is directed by the Utah Office of Energy Development, both of which continue to pay dividends for our state. These two important initiatives have provided Utah businesses and communities with the necessary tools to continue practicing responsible development and grow the development of Utah’s energy resources.

The summit provided the context for Utah to grow and develop energy education, initiate well thought-out energy policies, incentivize responsible development activities, and recruit companies that stand for the technologies and opportunities of the future. These efforts only continue to build momentum including the release of the Utah Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan at the Summit

In a dynamic keynote Ted Nordhaus, co-founder of The Breakthrough Institute, touched on Utah’s advantages and shared his insights on the global significance of embracing and installing innovative new energy technologies. This includes highlighting the wide variety of energy resources and innovative entrepreneurs and companies that call Utah home.

The 2014 Utah Governor’s Energy Development Summit was a step forward in reaching the goal of providing leadership in the balanced development for all Utah’s energy resources.  As we look toward the future, Utah should continue, encourage and facilitate appropriate energy and mineral production. Maintaining this focus will preserve and strengthen Utah’s competitive advantage, foster a regulatory climate that encourages capital investment, remove uncertainty, improve transparency, reduce the burden on business, protect the environment, and continue to champion energy efficiency and cost-effective energy options.

The Salt Lake Chamber welcomed the opportunity to support the Summit and learn from all attendees about the myriad of opportunities our state has in relation to energy and mineral development. We look forward to another great year for Utah’s energy sector and our economy.

Op-Ed: Utah’s transportation budget struggles

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Editor’s note: This op-ed was written by Johnny Anderson  and was published on the Deseret News here. Anderson represents Utah’s House District 34 and chairs the Transportation Committee.

The April 16 article by Joan Lowy of The Associated Press titled, “The Transportation Blues,” describes the transportation funding woes of the federal government. The potential loss of or decline in federal transportation dollars will seriously impact Utah. I wanted readers to understand that impact as well as our current funding situation.

According to Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan, we are facing a shortfall of $11.3 billion over the next 25 years in our transportation infrastructure development and maintenance needs. Roughly one-third of that need is at the state level, another one-third at the local level and the remaining one-third is for transit. This is based on our projected population growth and development plans.

In order to limit this discussion to roads, let’s ignore transit funding leaving a $7.5 billion shortfall. Therefore we need approximately $300 million additional per year for the next 25 years to meet our road capacity and maintenance needs. UDOT’s budget for 2013 was just over $1.2 billion, so adding $300 million is a considerable amount. However, if we don’t begin to tackle this issue, then Utah’s transportation system, road congestion and air quality will get progressively worse.

Road maintenance is an important job of both UDOT and local governments. Despite how good our roads might be now, road maintenance is an area where we need to do much better. Local governments are having trouble affording maintenance costs. Most state roads receive appropriate, preventative maintenance but not all. We have thousands of miles of state rural roads that we cannot afford to proactively maintain. Although this is currently a budgetary necessity, it is a terrible strategy. A road is at least six times less expensive to proactively maintain than to just fill potholes. Well-maintained roads last longer and are safer.

Of the $300 million per year we need to meet our funding shortfall, about $67 million would bring all state roads into the proactively maintained category and would pay for all of the bridges and overpasses that need to be replaced. So, even if we didn’t come up with the $300 million we need to properly prepare for growth, we still need the $67 million per year for proper maintenance. The $300 million is very necessary, the $67 million is critical.

Now for the really scary part. Of UDOT’s 2013 budget of $1.2 billion, over $200 million is federal funds. If Congress does not act to restore solvency to the Transportation Trust Fund, we could see that $200 million quickly become less than $10 million in 2015. So our critical need of $67 million quickly jumps to over $250 million for that year.

This year’s Legislative Transportation Interim Committee will work on ideas to deal with our funding shortfall. There will be debate about increasing taxes and whether it is more appropriate to increase the gas tax, registration fees, sales tax or some of each. It will be a difficult task but it must be accomplished. The growth is coming and our infrastructure continues to age.

We can work together and demonstrate the courage and forethought needed to address the problem or we can end up in the same predicament that New Jersey is in. An April 16 New York Times article, “Ailing Pulaski Skyway Offers a Lesson in Creative Financing,”describes how Gov. Chris Christie had to stop a desperately needed congestion relief project and divert money to a failing 82-year-old bridge that is rusting away. We can pay a little now to stay ahead of the problem or pay a lot more later by refusing to act.

 

Mind the Gap: Skills gap weighs on U.S. jobs growth

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Editor’s note: This post is republished from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce blog. You can find the original here.

It’s one of today’s most vexing economic puzzles: why do U.S. employers have an estimated 4.2 million open jobswhen 10.5 million Americans are still out of work?

One answer is the “skills gap,” a mismatch in which job seekers lack the skills or qualifications for the jobs employers need to fill. According to a CareerBuilder poll published in March, 54% of employers say they’re unable to find qualified applicants for open positions.

Among the top areas in which employers have trouble matching jobs to applicants, the survey says, are computer and mathematical occupations (with 71% reporting difficulty filling positions), architecture and engineering (70%), management (66%) and health care (56%).

Workers aren’t the only ones who suffer from the skills gap. CareerBuilder notes that it can be costly to leave positions empty, resulting in declines in customer service, employee morale, work quality, and revenues. Leaving a job vacant for three months or longer can result in a $14,000 loss for a company, the study estimates.

“The skills gap is an issue that is not going away anytime soon,” says Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder and co-author of The Talent Equation. “There is a growing disconnect between the skills employers need and the skills that are being cultivated in the labor market today. This causes workers and companies to miss out on realizing their full potential and, in turn, causes the economy to fall short of its potential.”

How Big is the Skills Gap?

Yet to suggest the skills gap may be weighing negatively on the labor market is to invite controversy. While business leaders and potential hirers point to the skills shortage as a key challenge, left-leaning commentators declare the gap is a “myth.”

For example, economist Paul Krugman derides the “skills gap” concept in his New York Times column, arguing that it’s tantamount to “blaming workers for their own plight.” Krugman also suggests the skills gap idea was being propagated by business executives so they could keep more for themselves—a decidedly conspiracist take.

But Marlene Seltzer, CEO of Jobs for the Future (JFF), argues that critics like Krugman overlook the real evidence of a skills gap, pointing out that job seekers and workers would benefit from a renewed focus on skills development, training and education.

“While there is no question that job creation is critical in getting the U.S. economy moving again, Krugman’s claim of a skills gap myth flies in the face of reality,” Seltzer writes. “Numerous studies have shown that there are regions and sectors across the country facing a shortage of skilled workers, especially for middle-skill jobs. More importantly, there is broad consensus that the future prosperity of the United States will involve the creation of high-skill, high-wage jobs that require postsecondary credentials.”

Meanwhile, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) carve out a possible middle ground, suggesting the skills mismatch may be less severe than media accounts suggest. The MIT findings do suggest, however, that shortfalls in math and reading competence could have serious implications for future innovation.

“[The MIT researchers are] not saying we’re going out of business—that this is a disaster,” Paul Osterman,professor of human resources at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says in Forbes. “They’re saying it’s a concern. And in the long run, particularly with the large number of retirements that are coming, it could get worse.”

What Can be Done?

Of course, the skills gap doesn’t entirely explain the slow-motion jobs rebound. Many employers are also anxious about adding to their payrolls with so much looming uncertainty sparked by the mandates, rules and taxes under Obamacare, as well as the endless growth of regulations. Nevertheless, the skills gap is undoubtedly another contributing factor to the climate of uncertainty.

But there may be a renewed focus on fresh approaches to address the skills gap. JFF’s Seltzer calls for a wide-ranging response from the private and public sector to focus on helping workers develop new skills for today’s economy.

“Fortunately, there are significant reforms and innovations underway across the country that are bringing together community colleges and universities, community organizations, philanthropy, and business groups to redesign education and training systems,” Seltzer writes. “These efforts involve new education and technology delivery models that accelerate learning and lead to careers in these high-demand fields…The whole premise of these efforts is a deep belief in the potential of individuals and their ability to succeed.”

And those groups are stepping up to meet the need. One notable effort is J.P. Morgan Chase’s “New Skills at Work” initiative, a $250 million, five-year project to provide funding and develop partnerships with local leaders in 10 cities to develop effective approaches skills training for workers.

Another intriguing possibility gaining ground is the revival of the apprenticeship model for job training. In the Wall Street Journal, Peter Downs, editor of St. Louis Construction News and Review, urges U.S. employers to embrace this old-school yet innovative approach to help young workers develop the skills they need to compete.

Even President Obama is getting on board, recently announcing that the government will expand job-training and apprenticeship programs with a $600 million effort to equip workers with the skills sought by employers.

One thing all observers agree on is the need for cooperation and coordination between the public and private sectors to address workers’ needs for new skills.

“The onus is on businesses and the public sector to work side by side to identify where there is a deficit of talent and reskill workers to close the gaps within their communities,” CareerBuilder’s Ferguson says. “This is not a problem that can be solved overnight, but it can be solved.”

Chris Redgrave on Millennials – Capitol Club

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

If there’s one thing that’s different about the Millennial generation compared to others, it’s this: they are the most connected generation this world has ever seen.

That was the point of the Salt Lake Chamber’s Capitol Club presentation by Chris Redgrave in April. Redgrave is the senior vice president of communications for Zions Bank and the voice of Speaking On Business, Zions Bank’s radio spot with KSL NewsRadio.

In her presentation to the Capitol Club, Redgrave brought up both the pros and cons of this generation, but also discussed how they have the potential to make the most change. “The generational shift has never seen anything like this,” she said.

According to Redgrave, Millennials are natural innovators, optimistic and educated. They have different values than previous generations, such as speed over accuracy. They are more likely to be progressive on immigration stances and less likely to agree with protectionist policies. Millennials, in general, have a desire for a fairer world where diversity and equality is the norm. Redgrave said that Obama even touched on the fact that this group is very politically active and have a lot of voting power going into the future.

“The digital revolution is responsible for all of this,” Redgrave said of the generational shift between Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers. Most Millennials, for example, likely grew up with a computer in their home and thus, learned how to take advantage of the technology available to them. This is the generation with the most “know-how” of technology. And thanks to technology, we are able to talk and speak to people worldwide without much effort or money.

Economically, Redgrave pointed out that the Millennials will outspend the Baby Boomers by 2017, only a few short years away. They are entering, if they haven’t already, the age of acquisition where they start to purchase more, from houses and cars to goods and merchandise.

In the workplace, Millennials see things in a very flat structure where everyone is on the same level. The business hierarchy of employees isn’t entirely lost on them, but they see every employee as an equal. They also tend to make great team workers, wanting to work together to solve problems. And they recognize that these connections can be important, both now and in the future.

Another differentiating example Redgrave shared was that the one thing Millennials are most scared of is losing their parents. About 90 percent of Millennials have this fear, and often boomerang back to live with their parents if things don’t work out. This points out the fact that parents are very involved in their Millennial children’s lives.

Also known as the “sharing generation,” Millennials are extremely connected–to their parents, their network and to the world. For example, about 78 percent will believe peer reviews rather than advertisements and 70 percent go to their network before they make a decision. “They have a global understanding about relationships and the impact of the world,” Redgrave said. “Networking is huge!”

Building a network to get what and where you want is a considerable to building the life you want. Millennials know this and take advantage of it.

The Capitol Club is composed of business leaders with a keen interest of policy issues affecting Utah’s business community. The Capitol Club meets monthly to engage with policy and business leaders regarding the most pressing policy issues of the day.

“The Salt Lake Chamber Capitol Club gives business professionals unrivaled access to Utah’s leaders,” said Dan Harbeke, director public affairs of Union Pacific Railroad. “If you are interested in an inside look to how policy in Utah works, I’d encourage you to join.”

To learn more about the Capitol Club and how to join, visit slchamber.com/capitolclub.

Be wattsmart, save energy and improve your bottom line

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

As a business, it’s important to reduce costs and be kind to the environment. Both are good for business and the community. The Salt Lake Chamber also supports conservation as well as innovative and environmentally responsible development of energy.

When Utah Paperbox, a 100-year-old company that produces customer packaging for everything from chocolates to golf ball sleeves, was looking for energy and operational efficiency options for the expansion of their Salt Lake City facility, they turned to Rocky Mountain Power’s wattsmart Business program for help.

One of the energy-saving installations to Utah Paperbox included an innovative fan-cooling system and six direct evaporative coolers. Because evaporative cooling uses considerably less energy than traditional air conditioning, Utah Paperbox is saving 294,000 kilowatt-hours per year in electricity and more than $26,000 every year in energy costs. They also earned more than $34,000 in Rocky Mountain Power wattsmart Business incentives to help pay for the project.

Wattsmart Business offers technical expertise and cash incentives for installing energy-efficient equipment that will keep you cool while saving energy and money. Incentives also are available for adding insulation, installing a cool roof, or replacing windows – all things that reduce heat gain in a building.

The Salt Lake Chamber sat down with Rocky Mountain Power president & CEO Richard Walje to discuss why businesses should be wattsmart businesses and how it can make a difference.

Learn more at wattsmart.com.

Key policies to reinvigorate our nation’s transportation program

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Building from conversations with business, civic and elected leaders in communities throughout the country, Transportation for America has developed a platform of seven broad policies to reboot the nation’s federal transportation program and put it—and the nation—on sound footing.

Salt Lake City and Utah continue to be highlighted as a leader in transportation investment and unrivaled partnerships. This document helps summarize these efforts and many others that highlight a path forward for transportation policy in Utah. You can down the document here and read more about Transportation for America at t4america.org.