DSN for Doing What Matters, PJ Shelton, Panelist on Workforce of the Future

Saybrook University Dept of Leadership & Management Inaugural Workforce Outreach Event in Oakland

Colleagues: Calling all academicians, practitioners and policymakers to join me by either posting comments here and/or attending a half-day facilitated workshop at Saybrook University’s Department of Leadership & Management Inaugural Leadership and the Workforce Outreach Event on May 14, 2016 in Oakland, CA.

There is science around learning and we’ve come a long way in the last decade, now understanding a few key points that have become ‘conventional wisdom:’

  • That learnings before elementary school ‘Pre-K’ are critically important lifetime foundations
  • That individuals learn differently, and hands-on involvement is more effective for retention (so teaching styles should vary and incorporate both)
  • That our economy is no longer manufacturing-centric (though some is coming back), but more ‘service-oriented’ – which mandates entirely different skillsets, and
  • That ‘soft skills,’ of communication, human interaction, listening and conflict resolution ‘rule’ in a service economy.

Equally true and maybe less accepted as ‘conventional wisdom,’ is the fact that diversity really is a strength, in a population and in a workforce.  Not to be tolerated but celebrated as a strength that will sustain us into the future. Our Doing What Matters Initiative has focused on responsive training programs responsive to the needs of ‘other,’ populations within the workforce:  women (a majority of working people, but only 5% of Fortune 100 CEOs), veterans, ex-convicts/felons and underprivileged youth and communities. That begins with recognizing these populations exist and are not currently developed or provided access to opportunity as equals in the workforce.  More than 20 million people in the US (and more than 25% of black males) have a felony conviction.  America has been at war for 14 years and unemployment among veterans is well above national averages – because returning deployed veterans fight a ‘language barrier’ in a hiring population that doesn’t know a captain from a colonel, nor do they care.  

Technology has enabled ‘virtual learning’ tools that transforms the classroom experience, catering to students all over the world. Their inabilities to physically attend a classroom session is no longer a hindrance. The composite makeup of  teaching has now incorporated multiple diverse ‘communities.   But we need to prioritize bringing those platforms and systems into the learning environment.  Starting early, making learning lifelong.   We have ‘virtual internships’ we’ve created with China that connect California community college students with counterparts in Ningbo, blazing new paths for international business communication and development.  And importantly this program completely eliminates the challenge of distance.  

Let’s address the challenge of integrating ‘other’ people into the workforce, actively see what IS, and adapt our learning methods to the realities of today’s working people, coupled with the talent needs of tomorrow’s businesses.  

Join us as we talk about innovative programs from Rosie the Riveter programs for women in welding to ‘ban the box’ consistency in hiring here in California, to paid high school internships that create experience in the warehousing/logistics trade for high school students – positioning them to enter the workforce in an exciting career where they contribute right away.  Both the industry, the student and the ‘communities’ win.

We’re ‘Doing What Matters.’ Let’s get to work.