September 29, 2015
America Needs Talent!

We’re being left in the global dust. What can we do about it?  Lumina Foundation President Jamie Merisotis to describe a new Golden Age for the U.S. in the 21st century.

BERKELEY, CA, September 29, 2015 – Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of Lumina Foundation and recognized leader in philanthropy, higher education, and public policy, will describe how to develop   national resources to push the U.S. back to world prominence, the focus of his new book America Needs Talent, at a talk at Berkeley on Oct. 2.  In a conversation with Carol Christ, Director of Center for Studies in Higher Education, Merisotis will explain why the U.S. needs talent to usher in a new era of innovation and success, and why government, the private sector, education, and individuals must make deliberate choices to grow talent in America. Merisotis states:

 By talent, I don’t mean just innate abilities (Americans have that in spades, though we could use a lot more).  Talent is a complex amalgam of capabilities that lead to success in personal lives and career.  It consists of education, provided in K-12 schools and universities; skills and training, learned in community colleges and on the job; and values such as determination, individual initiative, ingenuity, and service to others, that are rooted in our culture.   

In an article published in the Huffington Post, Merisotis writes, “The U.S. thrived in the 20th century because we had a critical mass of people with the skills and knowledge to meet the economic demands of that era.  Today we are falling behind.”

 How far behind?  The Georgetown Center on Education and the Work Force projects that by 2020, 65 percent of all U.S. jobs will require a post-secondary credential, far beyond the 40 percent of Americans who now have at least an associate degree.  Five years from now, of the world’s 200 million young adults expected to hold post-secondary degrees, fully 42 percent will come from China and India, but only 11 percent from the U.S. 

 In his new bookMerisotis presents five bold ideas to attract, educate, and deploy the American workforce for the 21st century: 

  • Rethink and reimagine higher education. Our higher education system has failed to evolve  with society, and today it is out of sync with too many students' needs. We need to redesign the system to center on today's students, most notably by measuring students' progress based on their learning outcomes, rather than time spent in the classroom.
  • Unleash private sector innovation. The private sector can play a powerful role in addressing the talent conundrum. The private capital markets hold a robust $212 trillion in assets; we must tap it to pioneer bold solutions to meet the talent challenge.
  • Consolidate and repurpose the federal role in talent development.  Existing resources could help enormously to meet the challenge if the federal government would align its priorities behind the goal of increasing talent. We should create a U.S. Department of Talent to manage the well-intentioned but uncoordinated work of such disparate agencies as the Department of Education and The Department of Labor.
  • Develop a new immigration model built around the type of talent we need. Historically, immigration has been key to American success, but that narrative has wallowed in recent years in the dysfunctional bureaucracy of our immigration system. We must reshape this system to attract the talent employers need and to equip immigrants already here with the skills and knowledge for success.
  • Reimagine our cities as hubs of talent. Cities that thrive in the 21st century will be those that not only attract talent from the outside but build it from the ground up. By cultivating cities as hubs of talent, we could create places that entice and embrace newcomers while educating the homegrown workforce.

About these ideas, Merisotis states, “None of these solutions is a silver bullet. To work, they must be embraced collectively.  If we can pull it off, we can make sure America is a leader when it comes to cultivating and deploying talent, which in turn will position our nation for global success over the next century.”

The Lumina Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. and a driving force for increasing America’s success in higher education.  Bolstered by an endowment of $1.3 billion, Lumina envisions boosting the percentage of Americans with high-quality postsecondary degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025.  

Carol Christ, Director of Center for Studies in Higher Education, will moderate the presentation by Jamie Merisotis at The MATRIX, 8th Floor Barrows Hall, from 12pm- 1pm on Friday, Oct.2nd.

Jamie Merisotis is president and CEO of Lumina Foundation.  Prior to joining Lumina in 2008, Merisotis was founding president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, an education research and policy center.  He was also the executive director of the National Commission on Responsibilities for Financing Postsecondary Education, a bipartisan commission appointed by the U.S. president and congressional leaders to address college affordability. Merisotis also helped create the Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps), serving as an adviser to senior management on issues related to the quality and effectiveness of national service initiatives.  

Carol ChristisDirector, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley; former President, Smith College; and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Berkeley.

 Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) was established in 1956 and was the first research institute in the United States devoted to the study of systems, institutions, and processes of higher education.  The Center’s mission is to produce and support multi-disciplinary scholarly perspectives on strategic issues in higher education, to conduct relevant policy research, to promote the development of a community of scholars and policymakers engaged in policy-oriented discussion, and to serve the public as a resource on higher education.