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Building Data-Driven Workforce Solutions

Building Data-Driven Workforce Solutions

Guest blog post by Chauncy Lennon, Senior Program Director, Workforce Initiatives JP Morgan Chase Foundation and Member of the Commerce Department's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) 

Last Friday was the kickoff meeting for NACIE 2.0 – the Department of Commerce’s National Advisory Committee on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. I was proud to join my fellow committee members to address global competiveness. Without question, the meeting started in what can only be described as a sprint out of the blocks. We began the morning with Secretary Pritzker asking us what transformational investments and policies the Federal Government facilitate to help communities, businesses, and workers be globally competitive. By the end of the day we were presenting a list of ideas with the potential to answer this charge. Additional comments from Julie Kirk, Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director of Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, helped frame the opportunities ahead. 

A new and welcomed feature of NACIE 2.0 is three subcommittees focusing on innovation, entrepreneurship, and workforce development. I’m looking forward to serving on the workforce subcommittee. At JPMorgan Chase, we’ve just completed the first year of New Skills at Work, a five-year, $250 million global initiative supporting the development of data-driven workforce training and education solutions to help address the mismatch between the needs of employers and the skills of current job seekers. As the subcommittee got to work on honing its list of priorities, labor market information and data quickly rose to the top. Advancing the US workforce, helping industries compete, and fostering innovation all require better data and systems to process and share it with employers, educators and workforce trainers.

The limitations government, business and educators face in understanding education pipelines, career pathways, and the different types of credentials workers currently create significant economic growth challenges. Without data, employers don’t know if the workforce in their region can meet their skill needs.  The same goes for job seekers. If education attainment is not linked to the needs of businesses, high schools, colleges and training providers struggle to know exactly what credentials and degrees students might need to find jobs in different sectors and industries. 

As a result, both employers and job seekers suffer because of insufficient data. Job seekers have a hard time knowing about current and future employment opportunities while employers lack access to the quality data informing them about the results of training and education programs.

Building stronger data systems will take time. But it is the perfect example of an idea that answers Secretary Pritzker’s charge to NACIE: With the right information, we can transform our economy to benefit everyone.  

President Obama Announces $400M for Manufacturing Hubs and Skills Training

This week President Obama made some major announcements that will help create new, 21st century job opportunities for American workers in high-demand sectors.

Specifically, President Obama launched two new competitions for manufacturing and innovation institutes, one in smart manufacturing at the Department of Energy, and one in flexible hybrid electronics at the Department of Defense. Each institute will receive $70 million or more of federal investment to be matched by at least $70 million from the private sector, for a total of more than $290 million in new investment.

This announcement fulfills the President’s 2014 State of the Union pledge to launch four new institutes this year, for a total of eight institutes launched so far, and puts the Administration past the halfway mark on the President’s original goal of creating 15 manufacturing innovation institutes supported through executive action. These institutes are critical to ensuring the United States maintains its global leadership in innovation.

The Department of Commerce is committed to the President’s vision of creating a full national network of up to 45 manufacturing institutes over the next 10 years, which will require Congress to pass legislation. Secretary Pritzker has advocated for the passage of pending bipartisan legislation that would establish NNMI. Specifically, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act would create a network of up to 15 regional institutes nationwide. The legislation will also encourage partnership and regional collaboration between communities, the private sector, academia, NGOs, and needed supply chains in order to bring ideas from the lab to market.

NNMI would play a critical role in boosting America’s industrial competitiveness by supporting innovative technology development. Support for this network of industry-driven commercialization hubs will help strengthen U.S. innovation and competitiveness, two key priorities of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”  

Defining Operational Excellence One Person at a Time

Defining Operational Excellence One Person at a Time

When you’re striving for excellence, it helps to have an example. It’s much easier to work hard on something when you’ve seen others succeed despite obstacles. A highlight each year at the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the annual awards ceremony. This is where NIST celebrates operational excellence through the many achievements of its scientific, engineering, administrative and other support staff members. 

This year the agency was honored to have U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker provide remarks at the event.

As NIST employees left the ceremony Wednesday, they had almost 200 examples of operational excellence to pick from for role models—people who had done amazing things. Since NIST is a research agency, many were technical stars who had:

USPTO Open Data Roundtable – An Awesome Beginning

USPTO Seal

Guest blog post by Thomas Beach, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary and Director, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and Scott Beliveau, Open Data Team Lead, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Nobody doubts the value of data today, and the Obama Administration has taken many important steps towards making government data more open and accessible to the public. As Secretary Pritzker likes to remind us, the Department of Commerce is “America’s Data Agency,” and has a unique and central role in that transformation.   Although open data feels like the flavor of the month for every government agency to tout, this is especially meaningful for the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO. The agency houses a treasure trove of data, and now has crystalized a path forward to better sharing it with the world.

Disclosing and disseminating data supports our broader mission of advancing American innovation.  After all, the patent system rests on the trade-off between the disclosure of an invention and the right to exclude others from using it.  From that perspective, the USPTO has been in the business of open data for a very long time.  If we were going to live up to our mission in this interconnected, digital world of disseminating information about patents and trademarks, we knew we needed an agency-wide commitment to improve our data delivery on all fronts.  And that was the spirit in which we hosted the USPTO Open Data Roundtable with NYU’s GovLab on December 8th.

The roundtable brought together diverse members of our user community, including industry representatives, prior art searchers, and academics, with USPTO’s data team.

Staff-Led Groups Create Change Within the International Trade Administration

This year, the International Trade Administration’s Industry and Analysis (I&A) team launched the “Renaissance Project.” The initiative aims to create a system of turning ideas into actions, and it has helped increase our team’s productivity and boost morale.

Through the project, we challenged a series of staff working groups to develop ideas to not only make I&A a better place to work, but also come up with tangible, actionable steps to put those ideas into motion.

Every three to four months, a new group of interested volunteers discussed a particular theme, and then identified the concrete steps necessary to make improvements to I&A under their theme. Most importantly, after putting together a proposal to senior I&A management, each group actually took the steps to make to the recommended improvements.

Throughout the course of the past year, five groups have met as part of the Renaissance Project to work on their particular “theme” of issues, ranging from post-reorganization cohesion to long-standing issues:

1. Getting to Know the New I&A

2. Improving Communication

3. Training and Mentoring

4. Identity, Branding, and Image

5. Employee Recognition and Retention<--break->

Secretary Pritzker Visits Montgomery College to Discuss Importance of Training America’s Workforce

Secretary Pritzker Visits Montgomery College to Discuss Importance of Training America’s Workforce

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez visited Montgomery College in Germantown, Maryland, which recently received a federal grant to lead a consortium of 14 Maryland community colleges, in partnership with 37 employers, to build career pathways for cybersecurity and information technology jobs. The $15 million dollar Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant is one of 70 awards – totaling $450 million – that the Department of Labor announced in September. To learn first-hand how the grant is helping equip students for cybersecurity jobs that are locally available, Secretary Pritzker toured the school’s cyber laboratory with Montgomery College’s President Dr. DeRionne Pollard before participating in a roundtable discussion with representatives from Maryland’s community colleges, state and local officials, and employers serving as partners through this consortium. 

During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker emphasized that skills development is an important issue for America’s workforce and businesses. Since taking office, Secretary Pritzker has spoken to more than 1,400 business leaders and one-third of the Fortune 500 CEOs, and almost every one of them has raised this as an issue that is critical to their future. This is why Secretary Pritzker has made job-driven training a top priority for the Department of Commerce for the very first time. Across many different industries, from manufacturing to cybersecurity, jobs are going unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the skills they are seeking. In fact, there are currently about 210,000 open and unfilled cybersecurity jobs across the country.
 
Cybersecurity is a threat not just to national security, but to America’s businesses and economy at–large. During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the Commerce Department’s key role in addressing the threat of cybersecurity. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is one of Commerce’s bureaus, advances cutting-edge technology and industry standards and has conducted cybersecurity research for as long as there has been cyberspace. NIST has worked with the State of Maryland and Montgomery County on projects designed to secure electronic health information; protect assets in the financial services sector; and defend our energy infrastructure.

U.S.-China Relations: Great for TV, but Greater for the U.S. Economy

U.S.-China Relations: Great for TV, but Greater for the U.S. Economy

Frank Underwood doesn’t understand the purpose of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

Maybe you know of Frank Underwood, the main character on the show House of Cards, played by Kevin Spacey. If so, you may remember how he conspired with colleagues in the White House and State Department to orchestrate a trade war with China. 

How did he do it? Through the JCCT negotiations. 

While Mr. Underwood is commonly known in the United States, it’s much less likely that the average American knows what the JCCT is, aside from it being some way for a fictional administration to create tension with a major U.S. international partner. 

Though it isn’t a household term, the importance of the JCCT can’t be overlooked. While Mr. Underwood used the JCCT to start a trade war, the reality is that the United States and China use it to support trade peace – resolving bilateral tensions and exploring areas of mutual cooperation. 

The United States and China established the JCCT in 1983 as the primary forum for addressing trade and investment issues, and promoting commercial opportunities between the two countries. 

The JCCT has since resulted in significant progress on issues U.S. businesses have identified as priority concerns in China, including:

* protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights;

* government procurement;

* standards, testing, and certifications; and

* issues specific to certain sectors like information technology, energy, and travel and tourism. <--break->

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Skills Pillars in Ensuring U.S. Competitiveness

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Skills Pillars in Ensuring U.S. Competitiveness

Guest blog post by Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., MBA and Member of the Commerce Department's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

It’s an honor to serve with such distinguished members of NACIE and to have a voice in this national conversation about innovation and entrepreneurship.  This is an especially personal topic to me. Innovation and entrepreneurship are in my blood – and a part of my heritage. I’m the son of international students from China who sought – and largely achieved – the American dream in Delaware, where I grew up and first discovered my love of science and technology. 

Like the children of many immigrants, I was born with high expectations from my high-achieving parents. My late father was an accomplished DuPont polymer engineer, process inventor, and NASA Lifetime Achievement Award-winner. My mother helped found the University of Delaware’s clinical chemistry department. As you can imagine, there was a lot of pressure on me and my siblings to excel.

My work at the University City Science Center has reinforced my belief that innovation and entrepreneurship define the origins and values of America. After all, as Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will remind you, Philly was home to the original American start-up, our nation. My home city’s long and storied history of innovation that began with the Founding Founders continues to this day.

Between bifocals and the lightning rod, Benjamin Franklin alone, was a one-person innovation ecosystem! However, one person alone, or even one industry alone, does not an ecosystem make! Instead, innovation thrives in a rainforest-like atmosphere when disparate, yet related groups convene, connect and have the opportunity to collaborate.

Cities and regions are poised to be the defining platform to grow innovation ecosystems. They are the rainforests where these innovation ecosystems can thrive. They also provide a hospitable environment for scalable innovation. I believe that scaling – the process of transitioning from the start-up to the manufacturing phase in a company’s early life – is the key to fulfilling the promise of innovation and creating good jobs.

BEA Operational Improvements Enable Agency to Publish More Regional Economic Statistics

Operational improvements at the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) mean the public will soon get to see more regional economic data. These improvements will safeguard businesses’ private information, while ensuring vital regional data is available to policy makers and other data users. BEA is constantly looking at ways to better provide the information that users need while protecting the confidentiality of employers’ records.

One improvement is in the area of county-level earnings. BEA, for instance, produces statistics on how much people earn in different industries for individual counties.  If there are too few employers in an industry for a given county, in order to protect employers’ privacy, BEA cannot publicly publish the data for that industry. The BEA county-level earnings by industry data are then used to calculate BEA’s gross domestic product by metropolitan area statistics. If BEA can’t publicly use certain pieces of data for an industry in the county-level earnings data set, then BEA also might not be able to publish the same data for that industry in our gross domestic product by metropolitan area statistics.

Since the 1980s, BEA has relied on a set of computer programs to identify which statistics must not be published publicly to protect the confidentiality of business records for individual companies.  This year, however, BEA is switching to a new disclosure-avoidance system that reduces processing time from five days to one, while generating fewer non-public statistics.

Our testing indicates that the new system will consistently result in 33 percent fewer unpublished values in the final public statistics on the economic activity generated by metropolitan areas.

Another improvement will affect data on how much each industry contributes to economic activity in   metro areas. Because of this improvement, BEA will increase the number of data points on industry contributions to metro area economic activity that can be published from 68.3 percent to 93.3 percent, meaning that BEA will be able to publish many more pieces of data.

These advancements are examples of how BEA delivers strong customer service through operational excellence. BEA is working harder and smarter to respond to our customers’ needs.  The Commerce Department identifies operational excellence as an important pillar in its Open for Business Agenda. That is, delivering better services, solutions and outcomes that benefit the American people.

BEA prides itself on producing timely, relevant and accurate statistics and putting its innovative thinking to work to meet both economic measurement challenges and customers’ needs. 

MBDA Making Operational Excellence a Priority in 2014

For 45 years, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) programs have focused on providing greater access to business opportunities that better equip minority business owners to create jobs, build scale and capacity, and contribute to the U.S. economy.  

In response to the President’s call to make 2014 “a year of action,” MBDA ensured that we reached many more minority-owned firms throughout the nation. In addition to reaching new heights, MBDA was active in expanding its reach and services for the rapidly growing segment of the economy we serve. We opened seven new MBDA Business Centers in Baltimore, MD, Bridgeport, CT, Houston, TX, Bronx, NY, St. Louis, MO, San Francisco, CA, and Washington, D.C. 

MBDA also launched a concentrated effort focused on engaging minority business enterprises in emerging industry opportunities. Our collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy helps develop access and capacity for minority-owned firms to engage in the growing energy industry. 

In October, we provided our San Francisco MBDA Business Center with supplemental funding to establish a Technology Transfer and Innovation specialty center. The Technology Transfer and Innovation specialty center is designed to engage minority-owned firms in tech transfer and “lab-to-market” initiatives.  The San Francisco MBDA Business Center’s proximity to Silicon Valley, a leading hub for high-tech innovation and development, provides a prime opportunity to help minority-owned businesses leverage “lab to market” opportunities and ensure greater participation in the growing energy sector by assisting in capacity building and market entry. 

We also provided supplemental funding to seven other MBDA Business Centers to specialize in advanced manufacturing and healthcare technology, exports to Africa, exports to Mexico and South America and aerospace supply chain mapping. 

These efforts have anchored our Agency as a critical resource for the over 5.8 million U.S. minority-owned firms. And, as MBDA marches forward in the next 45 years, we will continue the pursuit of operational excellence and focusing on maximizing its value to customers. 

To learn more about how MBDA continues to pursue operational excellence in all aspects of the Agency in order to best serve the nation’s minority-owned businesses visit www.mbda.gov.