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Joseph E. Aoun and Wes Bush

How Companies and Colleges Can Get the U.S. Back to Work

STEM students need to work in the classroom and learn in the workplace.
Learning on the job, for credit.

Learning on the job, for credit.

Photographer: Daniel Acker

Last Friday, the Labor Department announced that the U.S. economy had enjoyed a record 76 consecutive months with job gains. Yet at the same time, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that 5.6 million jobs remain unfilled because of a pernicious “skills gap” -- or mismatch between employers’ needs and workers’ abilities. In a Business Roundtable survey, 45 percent of C-suite executives say hiring is particularly difficult in so-called STEM fields, those requiring expertise in science, technology, engineering and math. 

College graduates themselves are no less concerned: A national survey commissioned by Northeastern University found that just 14 percent of recent college graduates believe their education prepared them to work with artificial intelligence and robotics -- innovations poised to transform the American workplace.