Governors, Business Leaders Discuss Workforce Shortages, Opportunities

WASHINGTON  The nation’s Governors were joined by Fortune 500 leaders to explore solutions to workforce shortages in a panel discussion during the Winter Meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA).

In a panel conversation Saturday, NGA Chair New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Montana Governor Greg Gianforte led a discussion with Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith, Cognizant CEO Ravi Kumar, and AECOM Global Transportation Chief Executive Jennifer Aument. The discussion centered on strategies – including broadband access, digital skills training and apprenticeship programs – to address workforce shortages and ensure workers have the skills required to succeed in a changing job market.

“The growth and resilience of our country’s economic future depend on our ability to open new pathways and expand opportunities for our workforce,” said Governor Murphy. “Governors are focused on working with the business community and with educators to develop training that prepares workers for open jobs in growing fields. For the United States to compete in a global economy, we must rebuild the American Dream to be more expansive and inclusive than ever before.”

“Opportunities for good-paying jobs are growing, but we face a nationwide workforce shortage,” said Governor Gianforte. “By partnering with the private sector, improving and reforming education programs, and investing in workforce development, including trades education and apprenticeships, we can create greater opportunities for the people we serve, empower workers with in-demand skills, and address our nation’s workforce shortage.”

During meeting sessions Thursday – Saturday, Governors have met with federal officials and leaders from business, academia and philanthropy for solutions-driven conversations around the top issues in states and territories.

“Digital technology is transforming industries and entire sectors, but we need skilled workers for economies to flourish,” said Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President, Microsoft. “Government, the private sector, and nonprofits must work together to ensure that people have the access, training, and devices required to succeed in the digital economy.”

“Cognizant is committed to doing its part to build a strong and vibrant U.S. workforce,” said Ravi Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of Cognizant. “That’s why we’ve dedicated $150 million to support education and STEM skills development, and sponsored the NGA’s Workforce Innovation Network to support states in creating broader digital access. We’ve seen the benefits of private-public partnerships and appreciate NGA gathering us to exchange innovative solutions. Since the U.S. is one of Cognizant’s principal markets, we’re just as committed to investing millions of dollars in our employees’ continuous training, hiring from schools around the country, and upskilling across a range of digital skills.”

“We have a responsibility to ignite the ingenuity of the future workforce by upskilling and offering opportunities for advancement for all,” said AECOM Global Transportation Chief Executive Jennifer Aument. “These include STEM advocacy and mentee/protege programs that provide the digital know-how that will deliver the future of infrastructure and a low-carbon world.”

The Winter Meeting is one of the two marquee annual convenings of the National Governors Association, the bipartisan organization representing governors from the 55 states and territories.