Everyone is talking about the need to stimulate the depressed economy through job creation, but no one has developed a workable plan that can be implemented quickly. Innovation America, in co-operation with some bright industry and workforce development experts, respectfully submits a potential INNOVATIVE partnership that engages industry, academia and government.
The following white paper describes the "American Innovation Corps" a plan to create 200,000 to 400,000 jobs for unemployed or underemployed recent college graduates, America's next generation of knowledge workers.
America’s Innovation Corps
“A plan to create 200,000 – 400,000 full time jobs for unemployed and underemployed recent college graduates, America’s next generation of knowledge workers ”
THE PROBLEM: Over 20% of recent college graduates are unemployed. Unfortunately, recent college graduates do not generally qualify for federal/state unemployment benefits. In addition, many of the recent college graduates who have secured employment are working part-time or in (50%) of the jobs that do not require a college education.
The Solution: Innovation America, an innovation-based economic development strategic think tank, proposes a practical solution to provide meaningful employment to between 200,000 and 400,000 unemployed or under employed recent college graduates and part time college students. Innovation America proposes to create employment opportunities in innovative and high growth businesses including and not limited to BioHealth, Bioscience, Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced Materials, Clean Technology and Information Technology sectors.
OVERVIEW: In the U.S. today, there are over 2 million private businesses and approximately 17,000 public companies that have economic and growth challenges and are reluctant to hire in this uncertain economic time. There are also 13.1 million unemployed individuals in the US that need and want to go to work, including 5.1 million college graduates.
PROPOSED PROGRAM: Innovation America proposes a plan to place qualified college graduates in full time jobs with growing small businesses utilizing existing mechanisms to establish and implement the following program. We would recommend that America’s community colleges, 4-year public and not-for-profit colleges and graduate universities administer the program at the local level with an estimated 1,000 colleges and universities participating to recruit candidates, link to local businesses and fiscally manage the program. At the national level, an agency with existing ties to institutions of higher education and an established funding mechanism in place will be engaged and given program oversight responsibilities. An example, which has been recently launched, is the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program of the National Science Foundation. The goal of the I-Corps program is to connect NSF-funded scientific research with the technological, entrepreneurial and business communities to help create a stronger national ecosystem. The result is innovation to couple scientific discovery with technology development and societal needs.
A national Innovation Intermediary such as Innovation America in partnership with a federal agency such as the NSF through contracts with accredited community colleges, public and non-profit colleges and universities could administer the American Innovation Corps program.
America’s Innovation Corps program will provide unemployed and under employed recent college graduates and part time college students a meaningful and innovative employment experience. They would have an opportunity to learn about and participate in the process of transforming scientific and engineering discoveries into innovative commercial products. Members of the private sector—including technology developers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, venture capitalists, and others from private industry—will provide critical support of this effort as mentors in partnership with participating college faculty.
Conceptual Framework & Budget: The initiative would include approximately I,000 community colleges, public colleges and universities to be funded for up to $2.4 million each over 18 months. This would provide a 6 to 12 month America’s Innovation Corps job experience for up to 400 of their recent unemployed or under employed graduates and part-time students with local employers.
The budget per institution would be allocated as follows:
- $2,000,000 ($200 weekly stipend to company to subsidize min $400 weekly salary for each employee/intern funding 6 - 12 month positions with businesses matching the $200 stipend plus benefits).
- $200,000 ($1,000 tuition grants for each student/employee for faculty mentor)
- $200,000 (10% of weekly stipend for overhead)
The total program budget nationwide will be $2.4 billion in federal funds, which will be matched by more than $2 billion in employer contributions. It is anticipated that a minimum salary of $400 per week plus benefits will be paid to each America Innovation Corps participant ($200 federal fund stipend, matched by a minimum of $200 plus benefits paid by the employer).
The participating academic institutions must assign a faculty mentor to work with each of the America’s Innovation Corps participants and local participating employer. The program’s focus would be on small growth businesses of less than 250 employees. It is anticipated that the majority of the America’s Innovation Corps participants would be come full time employees of the participating employer at the conclusion of program period.
The participating company and college faculty member will identify one or more business opportunities that the company would assign the America Innovation Corps participant to work on. The research and innovation outcome will be a part of the participants work tasks and documented in a published report to the employers, faculties and key stakeholders by Innovation America.
We propose that local participating employers that hire the American Innovation Corps on a full time basis, would be eligible to receive a wage tax credit of 20% of each individual’s annual wages if that individual is retained as a full time employee for an additional 12 months following the America’s Innovation Corps project job experience.
Innovation America and its team of experts have developed and implemented innovation ecosystems in both the rural and urban settings for over 25 years in the US and internationally. Innovation America will provide the project management expertise to successfully execute the American Innovation Corps initiative working in association with selected federal agencies, academic institutions, and the business community.
- 200,000 to 400,000 unemployed or under employed recent college graduates or part-time students will receive meaningful full-time employment and valuable work experience plus an introduction in the application of innovation in solving real business and organizational problems.
- 400,000 US employers will acquire qualified employees to develop innovative business solutions
- 1,000 educational institutions will cultivate better partner relationships with regional employers. These newly formed partnerships will help foster the development of industry specific local curricula and enhanced employment opportunities.
- A new tax credit program for employers (to be developed) could be implemented for the hiring of unemployed or underemployed college graduates and current part time college undergraduate students
CALL TO ACTION
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