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SHRM22 Panelists: The U.S. Needs a Stronger Education-to-Employment Pipeline

NEW ORLEANS — The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) convened leaders in public policy and higher education on the opening day of the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2022 (SHRM22) for a conversation on the need to strengthen and expand the education-to-employment pipeline—a vital component of efforts to mitigate the challenges of the Great Resignation, improve the livelihoods of workers, and close the skills gap.

Congressman Troy Carter, D-La., former Congressman and SHRM member Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., Strayer University President Andréa Backman, and SHRM Chief of Staff and Head of Government Affairs Emily M. Dickens shared insights on how employers can partner with government and educators to better prepare students, workers, and jobseekers to meet the needs of the modern workplace in a session titled "E-Squared: Education to Employment—Building a Talent Development Ecosystem That Works for All."

"With over 11 million job openings across the country, HR professionals and employers of every size and industry understand the challenges of recruiting, retaining, and developing a talented workforce," said Dickens, moderator of the panel. "With the labor market mismatch and stalled progress on immigration reform, we can expect continued expenditures by states and the federal government on workforce development. It's imperative that HR work closely with policymakers and educators to see that these efforts get people into the workplace."

Backman, who previously served as Strayer University's chief employability officer, said colleges should do more to ensure students from untapped talent pools have access to the services they need to care for loved ones and their own mental and physical health.

"Employers and educational systems and workforce development boards need to come together to solve these problems," said Backman. "They need to connect students not only with jobs but also the services they need."

Carter, a graduate of and former instructor at Xavier University in New Orleans, called on employers to provide paid internships, allow students to shadow professionals, and mentor young people who might be struggling.

"We need more people to step up and say, 'You can do it and here are the steps,'" said Carter, who encouraged mentors to talk openly about their own shortcomings. "We need more opportunities for people to explain what they did wrong—not just what they did right. We have to be that surrogate parent to be there to lift them up."

Byrne, who currently leads the Mobile Chamber of Commerce in Alabama, stressed the need for HR professionals to engage with economic development officials.

"The first question we get from people talking about moving a business to Mobile is, 'Can you provide the workforce?'" said Byrne, a former member of the Alabama State Board of Education and chancellor of Alabama's two-year college system. "Our groups should be lined up closely with SHRM so we're preparing the workforce of tomorrow."

SHRM22 runs today through June 15 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. The theme of SHRM22 is Cause the Effect, encouraging business and HR leaders to boldly bring about the changes they want to see in the world of work.

Members of the news media are invited to attend SHRM22 virtually or in person. For information email

About SHRM

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies rely on SHRM to be their go-to resource for all things work and their business partner in creating next-generation workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at and on Twitter @SHRM.


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