Fortune | November 2, 2016
“Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not.”
I first learned what this saying meant in 1987, when I served as a Big Brother in New York City. I was matched with a young Dominican boy named David, and for three years I spent every Saturday with him. He was bright, and sweet, and dreamed of one day being an artist. But David’s opportunities in life had been defined by his environment: his teachers did not know his name, his mother worked nonstop to support him and his brothers, and the housing project he called home was the most heavily photographed crime scene in New York City. Losing the ZIP-code lottery before he was born had limited the paths available to him to realize his potential.
As this WorkingNation piece shows, stories like David’s and Chris’ are too common in America. We have six million young adults—one in seven young adults in this country—who are out of school and out of work with no more than a high school diploma. Paradoxically, over the next decade 12 million jobs will go unfilled due to a lack of skilled talent in our workforce. This is a two-dimensional market failure: employers’ demand for skills is not being met by traditional education and training systems, plus a massive supply of underutilized human capital with few bridges that connect the two. This mismatch forms the Opportunity Divide, which threatens both our nation’s economic competitiveness and the foundation of our civil society.
Read the full article in Fortune.