- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Jamie Merisotis wants to revamp the way the U.S. sees its labor pool. The Indianapolis-based member of the Council on Foreign Relations and CEO of Lumina Foundation for education believes that the federal government needs to refocus to attract the best possible talent to fill the growing needs of America’s job sectors.

“I’m not advocating for more government, I’m advocating for a realignment in what we do at the federal level,” Mr. Merisotis, the author of “America Needs Talent: Attracting, Educating & Deploying the 21st-Century Workforce,” told The Washington Times.

His idea is to combine the Department of Education’s missions with that of the Department of Labor and foster a new “Department of Talent” for a program that would connect companies with talented immigrants, thereby also altering the discussion of immigration entirely as more non-native-born Americans are needed to fill those jobs.

“If you put all that together in one agency [it] could develop strategies for education — obviously taking the lead from the states,” Mr. Merisotis said.

While he’s an advocate for the federal government working to close “the country’s workforce gaps,” he says Washington should do so “only if it can add value.”

Mr. Merisotis said it’s incumbent upon governments and industry to develop talent, which he views as more important than the “transaction-oriented” current model.

When asked what advice he might give to those about to graduate high school, Mr. Merisotis said he would push them to get degrees and certifications “that can show you know a few things.”

“The question you have to ask yourself is … how do I make sure I have a credential that’s actually going to have real labor mark credibility,” he said. “Talent needs to be expressed in monetary terms.”

• Eric Althoff can be reached at twt@washingtontimes.com.

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