Public Media Partners with U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Talent Forward 2018 National Workforce Conference

Nov. 20, 2018

CPB president and CEO Pat Harrison speaking at podium with "Talent Forward" projected in background

CPB President and CEO Pat Harrison delivers remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Talent Forward 2018 National Workforce Conference. Credit: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Talent Forward 2018

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on its Talent Forward 2018 National Workforce Conference on October 30. Focused on critical challenges for our country’s workforce, conference speakers discussed pathways to careers, actionable strategies to close the skills gap, and employer-led solutions for building the talent pipeline. More than 300 business and local chamber leaders, policymakers, workforce development and education partners, nonprofit and media representatives attended the event in Washington, D.C.

The daylong conference reflected public media’s local and national coverage and partnerships on workforce development and included remarks by CPB President and CEO Pat Harrison about American Graduate: Getting to Work, a public media initiative to help advance education and career readiness. Public media journalists, including NPR’s Education reporter Elissa Nadworny, ideastream’s Ohio Statehouse News Bureau reporter Andy Chow, and Education Week and PBS NewsHour correspondent Lisa Stark, moderated panel discussions. 

In describing public media’s mission, Harrison said, “For 50 years we have been advocates for lifelong learning through content that educates, inspires and informs, and that strengthens our civil society in the process. Our commitment to lifelong learning is more essential than ever as the American worker requires different skills in order to succeed in this changing economy driven by technological disruption.” She also explained how American Graduate is informing communities about the workforce skills gap, what businesses and community leaders are doing to close the gap and where people can find job-skills training programs such as apprenticeships for high-demand careers. You can watch her full remarks here. 

 CPB President and CEO Pat Harrison. Credit: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Talent Forward 2018

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Education Policy and Senior Vice President, Center for Education and Workforce of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Cheryl Oldham shared that “40 percent of employers report they can’t fill open positions, and only 35 percent of employers feel college graduates are sufficiently ready for the entry-level jobs in today’s workforce. We still have 6.9 million available jobs and, ironically, the U.S. has 6.2 million workers unemployed.”

Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, touted public media’s American Graduate: Getting to Work initiative, saying, “Public media can play a powerful role in these efforts by helping raise awareness, inspiring young people and mobilizing communities and more.”

Between sessions, the audience viewed locally produced American Graduate videos highlighting pathways to in-demand jobs. Several of the local stations’ stories presented at the conference included:

  • KLRU-TV in Austin, Texas explains how to become a master electrician;
  • PBS Charlotte in North Carolina spotlights the Tesla partnership with Central Piedmont Community College training technicians to build electric vehicles;  
  • UEN (Utah Education Network) followed one woman’s path to becoming a pharmacy technician in St. Lake City, Utah; and
  • Mississippi Public Broadcasting showcased the Hinds Community College Diesel Technology Academy in Raymond, Mississippi, where students learn skills to work in a heavy equipment facility.  
Mississippi Public Broadcasting highlights local training program as part of American Graduate. Courtesy: MPB 

More information is available through American Graduate: Getting To Work on Facebook at @americangraduate. 

About American Graduate

Since 2011, the public media initiative American Graduate, made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), has grown into one of the largest public media collaborations across the country with over 125 local public media organizations, and national television and radio producers and distributors, working with more than 1,700 community partners. National and local reporting, public forums and town halls, and education resources drove awareness and discussions among leaders, educators, students and concerned citizens, and inspired adults to become an American Graduate Champion for the nation’s youth. Stations played an important role helping communities address the challenges and highlight local solutions to the dropout crisis, and the national graduation rate is now at an unprecedented 84.1 percent.

In 2018, together with 19 stations, CPB launched the initiative’s next phase, American Graduate: Getting to Work, to partner with schools and businesses, and help prepare students with the skill sets and training needed to be part of the new workforce, especially for high-demand fields. Join the conversation at facebook/americangraduate, and find out more through your local public media station or

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