Concerned about the dearth of skilled workers, a coterie of major employers has banded together to see if their combined influence can move the dial on this key commodity.

The Business Champions Supporting Credential Completion includes such heavyweights as McDonald's, Aon Hewitt, Cigna and PepsiCo. Their stated goal: "to help more working adults obtain industry-recognized credentials and college degrees to fulfill job demands."

They'll have a tough row to hoe: one recent Manpower study cited by the group says 40 percent of skilled job openings remain unfilled because of a lack of qualified candidates. Companies dependent upon such talent are clearly missing out on much of the recovery's momentum as they scour resumes for the right people. And the situation will only become grimmer going forward.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.