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Agility May 30, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Innovation, Workforce.

In a preview article for a Racine, Wisconsin economic development event, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer interviewed the evening's keynote speaker, Jim Carroll.  Carroll's message for Racine: We all need to increase our agility.  At the community level, the organizational level and even at the personal level.  

Carroll isn't talking about the physical ability to scale a wall or touch one's toes. He's talking about agility in thinking, managing and manufacturing methods.

"One great word is agility. That's what we need, that's the trend, the capital we need. How do we develop the agility to deal with the future that is coming at us faster than ever before so that we can shift on a dime?" Carroll said.

Communities like Racine have to continue to look ahead and to build on the community's attributes, he said. For Racine County, the attributes include things such as location, easy transportation, lifestyle and workforce, he said.

Specific mention was later made of the need to continue to compete with the likes of China on manufacturing through targeting the high-skilled manufacturing areas – which require skills enhancement programming.  

I don't know Carroll at all, nor have I read his book, but his core message rings true.  The ability to be agile, to adapt to change, is what has defined economic winners and losers throughout history. 

But Carroll's comment about skill development as an outcome of an agile society immediately had me thinking of convergence between economic development and workforce development.  

An agile community will recognize its skills deficiencies quickly, develop innovative programming to fill the skill gaps, implement the new skills in the regional workplace, and use the skills as a marketing tool in both internal and external economic development.  



1. Kevin Thompson - May 30, 2006

The Department of Labor last week announced the availability of a set of resources for advanced manufacturers to use in attracting and training workers for careers across the industry.

Th Department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) convened a group of leading industry organizations to develop a comprehensive framework over the past year. Participants and reviewers included the Manufacturing Institute, National Council for Advanced Manufacturing, National Association of Manufacturers, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, National Institute for Metalworking Skills, Penn State University, Thomas Nelson Community College, Aviation High School in New York City, and others.

The group devised the framework by reviewing existing industry standards and curricula and identifying the common elements that apply across manufacturing sectors. Those elements include working with spreadsheets, interpretation of CAD (Computer-Aided Design) drawings, and database navigation and reporting. This framework allows for consistency across industries, customization within sectors, and easy updating in order to accommodate changing technology and business practices.

The framework is designed to evolve along with changing skill requirements. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has committed to working with industry partners to keep this tool current.

ETA will also shortly announce a competition for funding under the President’s High Growth Job Training Initiative for the advanced manufacturing industry.

The “Framework of Competencies by the Advanced Manufacturing Industry” may be found at:

2. Tom - June 1, 2006

Great comment, Kevin. I’m planning to offer up a commentary on this exciting and important development.

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