The shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. Labor Market threatens business productivity, international competitiveness, and economic opportunity for hundreds of thousands of Americans. According to economic forecasts, the skill gap will dramatically affect the manufacturing, trade and transport, and energy and utilities industries, a key source of revenue for the city of Long Beach, California. Internships have been well-documented as opportunities for developing skilled workers who become central asset to businesses and their local communities and increasing job placement and income for workers, yet the number of businesses offering internship opportunities has steadily declined in the last decade.
To remain economically competitive, Long Beach aims to strengthen its talent pipeline so today’s youth are prepared for tomorrow’s economy. Mayor Robert Garcia launched the “Mayor’s Internship Challenge” in June 2015 to help double the number of available internships to students in the local economy, to increase the quality of current internship programming, and to align opportunities to the needs of the changing economy. The Internship Challenge gains its strength from a collaborative team of business, community, education and government leaders who are focused on creating sustainable slots (not one time expansion investments), strengthening institutional coordination, and emphasizing placements linked to learning and future career goals. By working together, this effort will enrich student learning through meaningful internship and other career-building opportunities, increase operational capacity for businesses, and add a competitive edge for communities and the local economy via investments in its future employees.