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WIRED: Indiana staff hire December 20, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Innovation, WIRED, Workforce.
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The Purdue University Technical Assistance Program hired Christy Bozic as its manager of business innovation.  Ms. Bozic will be funded by WIRED for the first three years of her position.

Dave McKinnis, TAP Director: “Christy will be responsible for helping manufacturers with product development, manufacturing processes, supply-chain development, strategy development, business management and other related issues. She also will work closely with economic development leaders, work force development organizations, governmental offices and university contacts to help companies create and implement their plans for innovative practices.”

Bozic: “The biggest mistake companies make is thinking that they have to move oversees to reduce cost.  There are new, innovative ways to use the incumbent work force. Retraining and keeping new graduates in-state are key.”

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Video: Former MIT President on the future of engineering education December 13, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education, Innovation, Technology, Workforce.
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When Charles H. Vest, president emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talks about “Educating Engineers for 2020 and Beyond” (link to a 72-minute Real.com video), we who care about engineering as a means to economic growth should pay close attention. As a teaser, here’s a clip of the MIT World summary:

Vest perceives two key frontiers of engineering: the intersection of physical, life and information sciences — so-called bio, nano, info– “which offers stunning, unexplored possibilities;” and the macro world of energy, food, manufacturing, communications, which presents “daunting challenges of the future.”

The kind of students Vest hopes will explore these new frontiers should reflect a diverse society, write and communicate well, think about ethics and social responsibility, conceive and operate systems of great complexity within a framework of sustainable development and be prepared to live and work as global citizens. It’s a “tall order,” admits Vest, but “there are men and women every day here who seem to be able to do all these things and more.”

To prepare this new generation, engineering schools should focus on creating an environment that provides inspiration. In the long run, offering “exciting, creative adventures, rigorous, demanding and empowering milieus is more important than specifying details of the curriculum,” says Vest. Students are “driven by passion, curiosity, engagement and dreams.” Give them opportunities to discover and do – to participate in research teams, perform challenging work in industry, gain professional experience in other countries. Vest says, “We must ensure the best and brightest become engineers of 2020 and beyond. We can’t afford to fail.” [Emphasis added]

Creative industries generate wealth in young workforce December 13, 2006

Posted by Tom in Economic Development, Innovation, Research, WIRED, Workforce.
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At least, that’s what one Australian university researcher has found.

One in three of Australia’s young multimillionaires aged 40 or under made their fortunes in the “creative industries”, research shows. Among the older millionaires, only one in 10 were involved in creative pursuits.

“The pay-off for being a great designer or a great artist has never been better,” said Jason Potts, an economist at Queensland University of Technology. [Dr. Potts works for the Centre of Excllence for Creative Industries and Innovation.] “There are much greater opportunities today for people who follow their muses.”

BRW‘s Young Rich list for 2006 reveals 37 per cent of the 100 multimillionaires made their fortunes in the creative industries, which Dr Potts defines as architecture, advertising, art, fashion, film, publishing, software, entertainment, TV and video games. Sport, museum work and tourism are excluded. They toiled as entertainers (9 per cent), developing software (10 per cent), in fashion and design (11 per cent) and in new media (6 per cent).

Sarah-Jane Clarke, 32, who has made it to the BRW list as a co-founder of the fashion label sass & bide, said: “When we started we never thought about making money; a lot of creative people don’t. We wanted to create beautiful things.”

She said being part of a global market Australian designers could sell their products to the world, but “it’s more competitive”.

Dr Potts said: “It’s not enough just to go to art school. The huge rewards go to those who are exceptional. The difference today is that the Beatles, in terms of the fortune they made, were a once-in-a-generation phenomenon. Now we turn these people out once every six months.”

Frankly, I find myself struggling to grasp with the implications of this information.

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Young Professionals national conference wrap-up December 6, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Events, Innovation, Workforce.
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The Lehigh Valley (PA) Network of Young Professionals offers the first summary of the national Young Professionals conference in Madison this fall.  Sounds like a great event.

NGA Innovation task force launched December 5, 2006

Posted by Tom in Innovation.
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Forwarded from Kevin Thompson at the US Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration…I’ll look forward to seeing the results of this group, as it could positively affect the worlds of workforce and economic development:

NGA Announces Innovation America Task Force

Governors, Business and Academic Leaders Focus on Innovation, Competitiveness

PHOENIX, Ariz.—The National Governors Association (NGA) today announced a 17-member task force to guide the Innovation America initiative. The announcement came as governors gathered in Phoenix, Ariz. to launch the effort.

The task force, led by NGA Chair Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and NGA Vice Chair Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, brings together a bipartisan group of governors and members of the academic and business communities to oversee efforts to strengthen the competitive position of the United States in the global economy by improving the nation’s capacity to innovate.

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WIRED update: Alabama-Mississippi, Maine, Connecticut, New York, Virginia-West Virginia December 5, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Innovation, WIRED, Workforce.
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Many updates from the world of WIRED:

Alabama-Mississippi: Businessman Tommy Dulaney received the Meridian Junior Auxiliary’s Humanitarian of the Year Award. He is a member of the Alabama-Mississippi WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) Project.

Maine (free registration required): Maine’s WIRED project was discussed at a seminar on manufacturing innovation called “American Competitiveness: Global Innovation Networks vs. Regional Innovation Hubs,” held at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York City:

Karen Gordon Mills [discussed] innovation on the small scale. Mills, who founded Solera Capital in 1999, has been involved in a project to revitalize Maine’s shipbuilding industry by forming a cluster of manufacturers and local academic institutions that collectively will help develop the workforce, the brand, and the innovation that goes into shipbuilding.

The project benefited from a $5 million grant obtained through the U.S. Department of Labor’s WIRED program (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development). Following the success of the shipbuilding cluster, Mills said, Maine is looking to create 10 more throughout the state.

This is a really good article that deserves a read as it places the WIRED initiative firmly in the context of larger business innovation notions – in this case, regional manufacturing innovation.

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WIRED: Alabama-Mississippi lays out its vision November 21, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Innovation, WIRED, Workforce.
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The WIRED staff laid out the four main goals of their 37-county WIRED program to community leaders at Meridian Community College.  This is a good sign, as I was starting to wonder where this high visibility program was headed while other WIRED programs were already distributing grant monies.

• Goal No. 1: Create a regional identity. This means getting all the leaders in the region to focus on a “build it” attitude, rather than a “fix it” attitude. The WIRED team wants people to think regionally, not locally.

• Goal No. 2: Build entrepreneurship and support this by creating people, places and programs that are friendly toward innovation. Celebrate the successes of entrepreneurs.

• Goal No. 3: Create a regionalized worker certification program. What that means: Students who receive training at any of the eight community colleges in the 37-county region have the skills to do a job, but they have something else as well — a certification recognized throughout the region.

And tracking these workers means an incoming business owner can make a call and know how many workers fit their requirements.

• Goal No. 4: Finally, the WIRED team wants to bring the program into the K-12 educational system — provide schools with programs that encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and skills needed for the future.

Are these three questions REALLY simple? November 21, 2006

Posted by Tom in Innovation, Stronger Organizations.
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Principled Innovation, a great blog by Jeff De Cagna for associations and association managers, takes the simplest questions and draws conclusions by how they are answered.  Here’s the post (presented in its entirety so you can understand the context of the entire argument):

This post is simple. I just want to ask you three questions. I hope you will think about them the next time you are involved in a conversation about the future of your association:

1. What are you learning about the future that excites you?
2. What are you learning about the future that concerns you?
3. Are you motivated more by the excitement or the concern?

If you’re motivated more by the concern, you probably prefer to play it safe. If you’re motivated by the excitement, you probably want to innovate. My advice is to not let your concerns about the future drive the future of your association. Leaders know that when excitement drives the organization’s work, great things will happen!

Scott Briscoe of the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE), in the ASAE’s Acronym blog, offers his answers.   Most telling is this selection of his answer to the third question:

My two answers seem to be intertwined quite a bit, but if I had to choose one, I’d guess it’s my motivation around the concern that is fueling the excitement. Almost no one would rather be described as “safe” rather than “innovative,” so I’m hoping that I’m an exception to his last statement. Many of my thoughts on the matter seem anything but safe—up to and including my own job security.

The line between safety and innovation can get blurry as Briscoe indicates.  A little fear for one’s safety can drive a lot of innovation – indeed, has driven innovation throughout the years.

So let me pose the three questions to my readers: When looking at workforce and economic development, what excites and concerns you?  And is it the excitement or the concern that drives the work you do?

I can’t wait to see your comments.  I’m still formulating my answers, and I’ll post in the comments when they crystalize.

“The Perfect Storm” November 10, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Innovation, Technology, Workforce.
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[This will be one of a periodic series of articles about my experiences with the Northeast Indiana Strategic Skills Initaitive. Indiana’s SSI, as we call it, is responsible for delivering roughly $20 milllion in innovative workforce programming into 11 regions of The Hoosier State over two years to address high-demand, high wage occupational and skill shortages.]

Every now and then, a workforce planner like me stumbles into an environment that you could only hope would happen. In this case, I went to a luncheon thinking that I was going to offer moral support to an SSI partner and left thinking that we had built the foundational elements of a fascinating community of lifelong learning.

Indiana University-Purdue University‘s Business Enterprise Systems and Technology Institute (IPFW-BEST) is a unique entity; Dean John Wellington of IPFW’s Doermer School of Business and Management Sciences brought former DoIt Best Corporation chief technology officer Rob Palevich (pictured) on board to design a center that would take cutting edge business technology applications and develop a unique training environment that would help inject knowledgable workers into the local workforce. This would not only help area employers stay competitive on the technology front, but it would also solidify linkages between IPFW “supply” and its employer “demand” inputs.

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New England Innovation Summit November 10, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Education, Innovation.
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Check out this comment from the Employment & Training Administration‘s Kevin Thompson:

The Council on Competitiveness is partnering with MIT and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable to convene New England’s top executives and university presidents to plot a strategic roadmap for innovation-led regional economic growth.

November 16. Looks to be real interesting.