Talent | Policy Agenda

Create the "U.S. Business-Education Workforce Dialogue"

The President should direct the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education to immediately co-establish the U.S. Business-Education Workforce Dialogue – a framework of ongoing discussion and collaboration between business and education leaders to regularly examine kindergarten through grade 12, community college, and university curricula to ensure that the nation’s education system serves the broader educational needs of American students, as well as the skill requirements of 21st century businesses.

The Dialogue should include educators at K-12 schools, community and vocational colleges, and universities, as well as leaders of multinational corporations, regionally active firms, small businesses, and young startups. Dialogue participants should meet on a regular basis – at least semi-annually – in pursuit of a robust and specific agenda, facilitated by a dedicated staff

Importantly, the Departments should neither set the agenda for the Dialogue nor seek to pre-determine its outcomes. Rather, the Administration’s role should be to establish, facilitate, and encourage the Dialogue, allowing business and education leaders to identify the relevant issues and, working together, develop and implement effective solutions, with the help of policymakers.

A particular focus of the Dialogue should be to better leverage the value of the nation’s 1,200 community colleges. Whether serving as an educational “on-ramp” for first generation college-goers or low-wage/low-skill adults, offering cutting-edge occupational training, or working with businesses to provide continuing education and training for their employees, community colleges are the natural backbone of the nation’s workforce development efforts.

At its best, the Dialogue should seek to make employers fully integrated partners with American schools, colleges, and universities in producing both a highly educated and appropriately trained, “ready-on-day-one” workforce. Employers should not only communicate their skill needs to educators, but also provide business community input into curricula determinations, help set aptitude standards, develop apprenticeship programs and work/study arrangements, and encourage active business professionals and other practitioners to serve as teachers, instructors, assistants, advisers, and mentors.

This kind of active collaboration would likely produce substantial savings for businesses – U.S. employers spend more than $415 billion each year on informal on-the-job training and an additional $175 billion each year on formal education and training, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

A regular and robust dialogue between U.S. business and education leaders offers tremendous and highly tangible potential benefits to the nation and its citizens. Economists at Harvard University have estimated that if the math proficiency of U.S. students were raised to levels currently observed in Canada and South Korea, U.S. economic output could be expanded by “nothing less than 75 trillion” over the next 80 years – roughly $1 trillion annually.

Create an "entrepreneur visa"

Foreign-born entrepreneurs have been an important part of America’s economic landscape for many decades. A study released by CAE in December of 2017 found that 43 percent of Fortune 500 companies – and 57 percent of the top 35 companies – were founded by immigrants or a child of immigrants. These companies are headquartered in 68 metro areas across 33 states and employ millions of Americans.

And yet the United States is one of only a few industrialized nations that do not have a visa category for foreign-born entrepreneurs. In recent years, many nations – including China, Germany, France, New Zealand, Australia, and Chile, and most recently Canada and the UK – have created new visas to attract foreign-born entrepreneurs, including American entrepreneurs.

It should also be pointed out that many of the well-documented abuses of the existing H-1B visa process are attributable to the current lack of a clearly defined and lawful pathway for foreign-born entrepreneurs who want to build their new companies in America. Problems associated with the H-1B visa include the fact that such visas are arbitrarily capped at 85,000 per year, the demand far outstrips the supply, large companies benefit disproportionately while smaller businesses are virtually shut out, and recipients must be sponsored by a U.S. company to whom they become indentured servants.

With these realities in mind, CAE proposes the creation of a new visa category – an “entrepreneur visa” – specifically designated for foreign-born entrepreneurs who want to launch new businesses in the United States. To qualify, applicants would have to meet national security requirements and would have to have raised at least $100,000 in initial funding to validate themselves as entrepreneurs and to authenticate the validity of their business idea

Under the terms of the entrepreneur visa, foreign-born entrepreneurs would be admitted on a temporary basis, say two years. If by the end of that period their business has been successfully launched, is producing verifiable revenue, and has produced jobs for at least two nonfamily members, the temporary visa would be extended – say, for an additional three years. If the new business continues to be successful and has created jobs for at least five nonfamily members by the end of the initial five-year period, the foreign-born entrepreneur would be granted permanent residency in order to continue building their business and creating American jobs. A 2013 study by the Kauffman Foundation concluded that an entrepreneur visa would create between 500,000 and 1.6 million new American jobs within 10 years.

Award "graduation green cards"

A permanent residency card – “green card” – should be awarded to any foreign-born student meeting national security requirements who completes an undergraduate or postgraduate degree from an American college or university and wants to remain in the United States following graduation.  Research has repeatedly demonstrated that immigrants are twice as likely as native-born Americans to start a new business. More than 1 million foreign-born students – the largest foreign-born student population in the word – study at American colleges and universities each year. Current policy requires most to leave the country after graduation, taking their U.S.-acquired education and training with them.

Pass affordable and portable healthcare

According to recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 160 million Americans rely on employer-sponsored health insurance.  A national healthcare system characterized by employer-provided coverage can be a major barrier to entrepreneurship, since leaving a corporate job to launch a new business means walking away from healthcare.  As the nation continues to debate healthcare, the features of greatest importance to entrepreneurs are affordability and “portability” – access to quality healthcare from sources other than a corporate employer.

Pass affordable and portable childcare

Unlike many developed countries where childcare and early education are heavily subsidized, the United States has no national childcare policy.  In 2017, American families spent an average of $9,000 to $9,600 annually for one child’s care, up 7.5 percent from the previous year.  Childcare is more expensive than in-state college tuition in 28 states, and all 50 states and the District of Columbia fail the government’s own definition of affordability.

The cost of childcare is a major obstacle to entrepreneurship, particularly among American women.  Fortunately, the issue has generated active debate among 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, with ideas ranging from universal pre-K, support for the Child Care for Working Families Act, to government-funded childcare and early education.  According to entrepreneurs who participate in CAE’s regular roundtables, meaningful childcare should be affordable, portable, and available from the day a new child comes home.

Pass the Secure Act

Like healthcare, most Americas plan for retirement by way of employer-provided savings plans.  But many small businesses – and most startups –  can’t afford to provide standard 401(k) retirement plans for their employees.  Fortunately, new bipartisan legislation – the Secure Act – would modernize retirement security to enable new and small businesses to band together to provide multiple-employer 401(k)-like retirement savings products to their employees.  The bill passed the House overwhelmingly in May of 2019, but has been held up in the Senate.  On October 15, 2019, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) – co-chair of the Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus – along with Republican Sens. Rob Portman (OH), Thom Tillis (NC), Joni Ernst (IA), Martha McSally (AZ), Susan Collins (ME) and Cory Gardner (CO) sent an open letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) urging passage of the Secure Act this year.  CAE strongly supports passage of the Secure Act.

Ban noncompete agreements

Noncompete agreements, which have proliferated throughout the U.S. economy in recent years, are a major barrier to labor mobility and entrepreneurship.  CAE supports the Workforce Mobility Act introduced by Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) on October 17, 2019.  The bill would ban the enforcement of noncompete agreements in all but the most necessary of circumstances, such as the sale of a business or the dissolution of a commercial partnership.