Promoting Effective Dialogue Between Business and Education Around the Need for Deeper Learning

As employers scan the current workforce and anticipate future workforce needs, they frequently find that employees are not well-equipped with core content knowledge and 21st century workplace competencies, the combination of which the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation defines as “deeper learning.” The cumulative effect of these deficiencies impedes U.S. economic competitiveness, security, equity, and civic engagement.

BHEF, in partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, is examining the need for students to possess workplace competencies and core content knowledge as essential prerequisites of college and career readiness, and building the business case for improved competencies to fuel the innovation economy. To build the case, BHEF worked through networks of national business partners and conducted a series of in-depth interviews with key corporate representatives to illuminate the role deeper learning plays in hiring, evaluation, training, and promotion of employees.

Through our members, as well as through affiliates of Louisville’s Business Leaders for Education working group, BHEF connected with chief talent officers of over a dozen organizations, ranging from health care, aerospace, defense, and finance to identify the demand for 21st century workplace competencies. We conducted at least one interview with each organization, and often conducted follow up conversations to build upon questions raised in the initial interview. Companies also were encouraged to provide job descriptions, assessment models, and internal communications that incorporate 21st century workplace competencies and illuminate the role these competencies play in hiring, evaluation, training, and promotion.

This BHEF brief summarizes the findings from this research.