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Phil Jarvis

It Takes a Village!

The Gallup World Poll began in 2005. Gallup, Inc. polls every major demographic and socioeconomic group in over 150 countries each year and is committed to doing so for 100 years. As reported by Gallup CEO Jim Clifton in “The Coming Jobs War[1],” Gallup’s biggest discovery so far is that, more than anything else, the whole world wants a good job! Clifton suggests thatcommunities (countries, regions, cities, towns) that ensure their citizens have good jobs, and their employers have engaged employees, will keep their most strategic asset, talent, and prosper. Those that don’t will lose their talent to communities that do, and decline.  

In a world of accelerating change and uncertainty, aligning talent and opportunity demands the harmonized efforts of all community stakeholders. Communities everywhere are weathering the worst economic downturn in a century. All levels of government are in record debt, trying to find a balance between budget reductions, program and service cutbacks, and economic stimulus.

The oldest baby boomers turned 65 in 2012. Many have already retired and an annual tsunami of boomers will retire over the next 20 years. This mass exodus of knowledge, talent and experience across the spectrum of industry sectors will create talent vacuums and new opportunities for young people and new challenges for employers seeking to fill the talent void created by the boomers’ departure.

Accelerating technological advances regularly render jobs obsolete, enable robots to replace humans in others, raise skill requirements in all sectors, and produce new jobs continuously[2]. More formal education, technical training, and "soft skills" are now demanded of all workers, especially in new and emerging fields fuelled by technological innovation. Employers need people who can problem-solve and innovate, communicate and collaborate effectively with others of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, have a thirst for learning, are responsible and reliable, and are fully engaged and committed to their employer’s success. A 2013 Gallup survey[3] results suggest that only 30% of North American employees are fully engaged in their work.

Despite high unemployment and underemployment, particularly among youth, employers in all sectors report challenges finding the talent they need to fill “mission-critical” positions. We are in an era in which increasing numbers of “people without jobs[4]” co-exist with a larger and growing number of “jobs without people.” This should create a “buyers market” for job seekers. Unfortunately, due to skills deficits, the jobs without people don’t want many of the people without jobs.

The economic consequences of unemployment, underemployment, and employee disengagement are staggering. Lost productivity and reduced competitiveness impact employers. Lost tax revenues, social assistance, corrections, and stress-induced health costs alone run into $billions annually for all levels of government. Helping their citizens connect with fulfilling, family-sustaining 21st century careers has become an economic imperative for communities. The most effective way for governments to reduce deficits and debt, and for companies to increase productivity and grow, is by getting the right people in the right jobs, fully engaged in creating economic prosperity for their companies, their families and their communities.

On the upside, this may be the best period in history to be imagining and preparing for a career, or a career transition. In our increasingly “flat world,” more career options are available than ever. One can now work for any organization in the world, and vice versa. Young people and adults who know themselves and understand their strengths, are aware of emerging career opportunities, are entrepreneurial and have a sense of direction and purpose, and have or are prepared to acquire the education, skills and attitudes the 21st century workforce demands will have employers competing for their talents lifelong.

Nearly half of today’s youth exit the educational system into unemployment, underemployment, or mal-employment, often mired in student loan debt and unsure how to identify good career prospects[5]. Many students, even those with university degrees, begin their careers in minimum wage jobs unrelated to their studies, with little prospect of paying off their student loans let alone buying a car and home, and beginning a fulfilling adult life. Given the coming exodus of high-end talent boomers will take with them into retirement, and the increasingly inadequate supply of young talent, ensuring youth exit the educational pipeline into early career success has become an economic and social imperative for all communities.

Today’s students need higher skill levels than any cohort before them. Yet, key 21st century “essential” skills employers now insist upon are not in core curriculum in most secondary and postsecondary programs. Many students fail to see personal relevance in traditional academic curricula. They, like the majority of working adults (Gallup), are not fully engaged, thus they are underachieving. Students need more hands-on, “real world” work- and project-based learning opportunities at all levels. All job sectors experiencing growth require at least some level of postsecondary education, yet of 100 students in the 9th grade today, fewer than 30 will graduate without interruption with a post-secondary degree, diploma or certificate[6].

In the past year Career Cruising has sponsored Thoughtexchange[7] idea generation processes among national leaders in career development and career and technical education at Harvard University’s Creating Pathways to Prosperity Conference, NCDA’s 100th Anniversary Conference in Boston, and ACTE’s CareerTech Vision 2013 Conference in Las Vegas. The issues rated highest priority were:

  1. Educators and employers must collaborate to provide work-based and project-based learning opportunities for secondary and post-secondary students while they are still in school.
  2. Career and labor market information and guidance provision must be enhanced dramatically so students make informed decisions of pathways based not only on their interests, talents, and aspirations, but also on on evolving workforce needs.
  3. All learning pathways to careers in demand in the workforce deserve priority and respect. The “college for all” mentality does a disservice to many students, and fails to provide sufficient new workforce entrants with the skills and experience employers now need to compete globally and grow.
  4. The contributions of educators, parents, employers, and community agencies are all vital and must be harmonized.

Helping citizens find good jobs, and employers find good employees must now be every community’s highest priority. A new “whole-community” paradigm of career exploration, planning, and workforce preparation is required. Consensus on "promising practices" suggests a core of 5 "foundation resources" need to be in place at all levels of education. They include:

  1. Engaging experiential career learning programs in kindergarten, primary, middle, secondary, and post-secondary schools;
  2. Web-based career exploration and planning systems used in the context of comprehensive K-16 career guidance programs, accessible 24/7 by all students, teachers, and parents;
  3. Electronic portfolio systems with individual leaning/pathways plans (ILPs/IPPs) that are developed, continually updated and managed by students, with support from teachers and parents, through all education levels and beyond, with portfolio completion standards set for all grade levels by school districts, and/or departments of education;
  4. Online course planning systems linked to student information systems (SISs) that enable students, teachers and parents to collaborate in selecting individual learning pathway plans for all students based on informed career goals and pathway plans, and aligned with local employment opportunities; and
  5. Online networking systems that safely and strategically connect students and adult job seekers with increasingly informed dreams with employers with talent challenges. These connections can result in immediate hires, as well as mentoring, coaching, work experience, job shadowing, co-op placements, internships, apprenticeships, volunteering and community service, and part-time job opportunities that allow both employers and students to "test the fit" over time before committing to each other. In this way, local employers can create “pipelines” of future employees, and support educators in helping equip students with the skills and “real world” experience they need to transition from school to successful career paths.

Career Cruising’s ccEngage suite of seamlessly integrated cloud-based resources can be used harmoniously by all students, teachers, parents, employers, government and community organizations in any community. Powerful customization and report generation tools are available at the school/agency, community, and regional level.

In order to retain their talent and prosper, entire communities need to mobilize in support of these foundational career and workforce development resources, including:

  • all teachers, counselors and administrators in all primary, middle, secondary, and post-secondary schools, including public and private universities, colleges, vocational, technical and trade schools
  • parents and family members
  • employers, industry organizations, Chambers of Commerce, Service Clubs
  • community agencies, like the YM/YWCA, United Way, Junior Achievement, Big Brothers/Sisters, etc., that support workforce and human capital development

Without “whole-community” buy-in, use of even the best resources is fragmented and their benefits less than optimal. Career Cruising is committed to partnering with educational, business, and community leaders to implement a whole-community approach to career and workforce development to increase prosperity for individuals, families, businesses, and communities. Here’s a short video demonstrating whole-community collaboration in Rock County, Wisconsin. This is one of 15 regional or statewide whole-community implementations to date across the United States. New Brunswick is the first Canadian province to launch its whole-community InspireNB.

[1] Clifton, Jim, The Coming Jobs War, 2010

[2] Miner, Rick, Ph.D., Jobs of the Future: Options and Opportunities, 2012

[3]State of the American Workforce, Gallup, Inc., 2013

[4] Miner, Rick, Ph.D., People Without Jobs, Jobs Without People; Canada’s Labour Market Future, 2010

[5] King, 2009, Who Doesn’t Go To Post-Secondary Education?, Miner, 2010, People Without Jobs, Jobs Without People, Education Indicators 2011, Statistics Canada & Council of Ministers of Education Canada

[6]Education Indicators 2012, Statistics Canada & Council of Ministers of Education Canada

[7] Thoughtstream is a community engagement product of Fulcrum Management Solutions Ltd of Rossland, British Columbia.

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