11/12/2012 03:22 pm ET Updated Jan 12, 2013

An American Dream for All


Our leaders in the private and public sectors are finally beginning to understand the need to address the root causes of chronically high unemployment. The employment recovery we all seek will not occur until there is meaningful job growth across all sectors of our society, especially for diverse Americans, Veterans and Differently Abled. After many months of deep recession, we are still without an effective long-term solution to unemployment that provides a livable wage and addresses access to equal employment, opportunity and wages.

For example, the disproportionately high unemployment rates for Hispanics and African Americans should be troubling to every one of us. This nation will never achieve a sub 5% unemployment rate without addressing the employment market for diverse candidates. While unemployment is a prime topic of the presidential debate, the disparity in employment rates for minorities is rarely front and center where it belongs. It is my firm belief that the public and private sectors have the ability to make meaningful progress to turn the tables on unemployment and underemployment for each and every American.

It is my belief that our nation can and will make meaningful progress in putting Americans back to work, and here are four good news reasons why:

Good News #1 - Employers recognize that a diverse workforce is a critical imperative.

Most employers we come in contact with are actively seeking to attract and retain a diverse work force. Ninety-three of the Fortune 100 spotlight initiatives for diversity recruitment outreach on their company website. The jobs are there and employers are increasingly turning to online employment marketplaces, such as to tap into the diverse talent pool they need to achieve their hiring goals. The surge in online professional networking for diverse job seekers has created a vibrant marketplace for companies to access the very best talent available.

Good News # 2 - Educational resources are now addressing career preparation and access to employers in new ways.

Our most respected thought leaders endorse the need for employers to partner with educators in order to identify future talent and provide them with guidance on the course work and skills training required in order to fill many of the 3.7 million jobs available today. Hi-tech institutions of learning such as University of Phoenix, are aligning employers with students for maximum employment efficiency for both companies and job candidates. At our company, a new employment model is under way that matches employers with candidates at the very beginning of the higher education cycle. Early identification of future talent and a prescribed educational track to the job to be filled creates a talent pipeline that companies can rely upon to hire the right talent. This pipeline is critical for a company's plan for future growth and innovation. The standards for effective talent pipelining include:

  • Companies allocate capital resources to identify, secure, train and hire candidates upon completion of certification or a degree.

  • Job seekers begin their employment search prior to beginning a degree or certificate program. This allows them to identify their desires and capabilities as well as the employers and industries that are a good fit before beginning preparation for the job.

  • Educators work together with employers and governmental agencies to provide funding for students/job seekers who have secured a commitment for employment upon completion of a certificate and or a degree.

Good News #3 - Available work force is contracting as economy expands

Modest economic growth has already created employment shortages in certain areas such as Information Technology, Health Care and Sales Executives. These have been the traditional leading indicators of broader job sector demand in the last 30 years. True, we are not graduating enough computer scientists, but we now lack qualified sales staff to help companies increase market share or gross revenue. If the economy grows at a rate above 2.5% annually there will be across the board increases in demand for human capital. Additionally, if the financial markets continue their recovery there will be a mass exodus of baby boomers that have stayed on the job longer than they had planned because their Retirement Accounts were devalued during the recession.

Good News # 4 - Political resolution to address issues that have increased uncertainty and limited economic growth.

Most pundits and average citizens have come to the conclusion that our policy makers are unwilling to reach compromise on economic policy issues such as tax reform, entitlements and deficits. However, the are numerous factors that lead me to believe that in the coming year we will experience resolution to many issues that have been left unresolved, and here is why: Both Republicans and Democrats are beginning to understand that if they delay solving our most pressing problems now, the alternative will be political suicide. After the elections in November it will be in the best interest of all branches of government, federal, state and local, to resolve issues rather than continue to continue their contentiousness and kick the can down the road. My perspective is somewhat unique. I work in diversity recruitment and speak with thousands of employers each year. I am also a City Councilman tasked with leading our City Finance Committee and have seen State and Local Governments often too lax in their budgeting. The recession served as a wake up call for many chronic over-spenders.

These four reasons for hope in the near future will address the disparity in employment and wages for minorities. In the 2nd presidential debate both candidate spoke about lowering taxes and increasing business opportunities. In the coming months Congress will be forced to deal with the "fiscal cliff" which will serve as a catalyst to tax reform, most likely lowering cooperate taxation, simplifying the tax code and addressing passive income rates for those making above $250,000. It may have been politically expedient for Congress to operate with the credo of brinksmanship in 2012. It will be the opposite in 2013, which will provide both a psychological and practical foundation for a real recovery and result in increased demand for human capital.

At the core of any long term solution is preparing workers for the new economy and then creating a marketplace efficient enough to match employers with the right qualified candidates. The importance of education cannot be stressed enough. Aligning employers with educators to create an efficient talent pipeline for the future is equally important. We call this concept Education 2 Career and it will have the greatest positive impact on minorities because of the increased access to education and job placement it will provide. Companies that have concrete plans for the future will be the greatest beneficiaries of the economic recovery. It will be those businesses that pipeline their talent that will be able to harvest the success of the next economic recovery.