Big business has had a bumpy working relationship with the Trump administration—marred by disagreements over trade, immigration, and the President’s response to the Charlottesville riots. But a select group of CEOs has continued to work closely with the White House—and particularly with First Daughter Ivanka Trump—on one of the most important issues of our era: reskilling Americans for the coming technological tsunami.
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty (who is soon to retire) has been one of the leaders, focusing in particular on the notion that a four-year college degree shouldn’t be the only path to workplace success. Creating alternative pathways “has to be a public-private partnership to be successful,” she says.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also has been active. “This is one of the greatest challenges of our generation,” he told me. “It’s a nonpartisan thing. We are all about engaging on policy. We stay away from politics.”
All the CEOs I talked with praised Ivanka Trump’s leadership of the effort. “She is the greatest cheerleader for the workforce, maybe on the planet right now,” said Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff…who doesn’t agree with the administration on much. “Administrations change. My values don’t change. I can work with anyone.”
Other CEOs on the Workforce Policy Advisory Board include Walmart’s Doug McMillon, Visa’s Al Kelly, and Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson. Are they moving fast enough to meet the challenge ahead? “It’s not fast enough yet,” says Rometty. “But the momentum is definitely building.”
You can read more about the effort in the March edition of Fortune magazine, or online this morning here. And keep your eyes peeled for the public service ad campaign being launched later this month by the Ad Council, publicizing alternatives to four-year degrees.
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