I always tell my students to put the bottom line on top, so here’s the BLOT for The Job 4 Me: The missing piece in current workforce development efforts is communication.
It’s not hard to find articles about the shortage of skilled workers in a number of occupations—anything related to science, technology, engineering and math, for starters. Broadly, that includes manufacturing, building trades and healthcare. The shortage exists at all levels: Not just research scientists with Ph.D.s, but technicians with certificates and associate degrees. Not just engineers but machine operators with computer skills.
It’s also pretty easy to find articles about the on-going employment problem. While the overall statistic has shrunk to 5 percent—and that’s wonderful—too many people are in part-time jobs, or jobs that pay less than they need to live on.
These two economic stories keep running along their separate tracks. Lots of people put lots of good time and effort into developing training programs and recruiting people to fill the programs. Many of the results are truly inspiring. I had a ringside seat for the M-Powered Program at Hennepin Technical College and talked to the people who benefitted—both employers and employees.
I believe that communication is a simple, cost-effective way to boost the effectiveness of workforce development programs. Communication connects those two stories—workforce shortages and underemployment—that to date are being told separately.
The goal is to let as many people as possible know about as many job options as possible. Something will strike a chord. The light bulb will come on. A path will appear.
Then it’s just a matter of pursuing that path, step by step, through coursework, apprenticeship, or realigning the current skill set.
It sounds simple. It isn’t easy. I hope that everyone who reads this blog will come back frequently and, above all, pass the link along to anyone who is unemployed, underemployed, or simply asking, “Where’s the job for me?”