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Initial media coverage of Skills Commission report December 14, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education, Media, Workforce.
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The AP story is on the wire, and it’s rather comprehensive – as is the report:

The group is proposing that high school end at 10th grade for many students and that teacher pension plans be scrapped for other benefits such as higher pay and 401(k)s.

The proposals, which likely will be viewed as radical by some, were presented by a decidedly establishment group that includes two dozen ex-Cabinet secretaries, school officials and business executives, along with top government leaders from the major political parties.



2006 Election: Des Moines Register calls for dialogue on the looming “People Drought” October 26, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Media, Workforce.
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I don’t want this to become a political blog – Lord knows that there are enough of those and not enough coverage of economic development and workforce issues – but these issues have undeniable intersection points in the world of politics. And these issues are getting coverage…or, at least, the public is crying out for our civic leaders to focus their attention on these substantial issues.

Nowhere is that cry more clear than in the pages of the Des Moines Register, where the Register’s editorial board posed a series of questions to the two major party gubernatorial candidates related to what the paper calls “The People Drought:”

As members of the baby-boom generation begin to retire in the next few years, there simply won’t be enough younger people in Iowa to replace them — even if the state somehow manages to stem the out-migration.


Recommended reading from the Dept. of Labor September 7, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education, Media, Research, Workforce.

Courtesy of Kevin Thompson at the Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration, edited only to clean up code in the transfer between Outlook and WordPress. I received this note over a week ago, but it regretfully was caught up in my recent move. Apologies, Kevin. Here’s his note:

The MetLife Foundation-supported Alliance for Education released a new issue brief this week – Paying Double: Inadequate High Schools and Community College Remediation.

The authors note:

Because too many students are not learning the basic skills needed to succeed in college or work while they are in high school, the nation loses more than $3.7 billion a year. This figure includes $1.4 billion to provide remedial education to students who have recently completed high school. In addition, this figure factors in the almost $2.3 billion that the economy loses because remedial reading students are more likely to drop out of college without a degree, thereby reducing their earning potential.

Page 6 of the report presents, by state, the annual savings and earnings benefits from a reduced need for Community College remediation.


New innovation advisory committee at the US Department of Commerce August 10, 2006

Posted by Tom in Innovation, Media.
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From Kevin Thompson at the US Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration – this looks to be an interesting group:

Commerce Department Announces Formation of Measuring Innovation in the 21st Century Economy Advisory Committee; Seeks Members from Business and Academic Communities; Applications Accepted up to September 29

The Economics and Statistics Administration within the Department of Commerce has announced the establishment of the Measuring Innovation in the 21st Century Economy Advisory Committee and outlined plans for the recruitment of members from the business and academic communities.

The Committee will advise the Secretary on new or improved measures of innovation in the economy in order to explain how innovation occurs in different sectors of the economy, how it is diffused across the economy, and how it impacts economic growth and productivity. The Committee will be charged with recommending new and improved statistics to help policy makers understand the innovation process.

The Committee will consist of not more than fifteen members appointed by the Secretary of Commerce and composed of individuals from business and academia. Those from business will be knowledgeable about their industry sector and those from academia will be experts in their academic field.

The Committee will function solely as an advisory body, in compliance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

Applications for Committee membership will be received until the close of business September 29, 2006.

Interested individuals are strongly encouraged to send their applications for membership on the Committee by e-mail or facsimile to — E-mail: Anderson@esa.doc.gov, facsimile: 202-482-0432. For those individuals without Internet or facsimile access, applications may be mailed to Economics and Statistics Administration, attn: Measuring Innovation Committee, Room 4855, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20230.

The August 10 FEDERAL REGISTER contains additional information about this Committee. Other contacts regarding the Committee formation are Elizabeth Anderson, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, ESA, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20230: telephone: 202-482-3727 or Jacque Mason at 202-482-5641.

15 Best Practices of Successful Small and Medium-sized Businesses August 7, 2006

Posted by Tom in Media, Opinion, Research, Workforce.

Evolving Excellence has some fun with the National Association of Manufacturers/RSM McGladrey “The Future Success of Small and Medium Manufacturers” report. I looked it over and thought that it largely made sense:

  1. Stay in touch with customers
  2. Differentiate products and services
  3. Devote time and energy to marketing
  4. Go global
  5. Ensure your cost system is helping contain cost increases
  6. Look for a long-term relationship with a banker
  7. Invest at least 3 percent of payroll in training
  8. Explore how MEP experts can help you
  9. Appoint a majority of outsiders to your board of directors
  10. Develop a plan for management succession
  11. Monitor your company’s viability and competitiveness daily
  12. Weigh quantitative and qualitative factors when making capital investments
  13. Look for opportunities to delegate
  14. Speak out to government representatives
  15. Stay abreast of regulatory and policy developments

Notice #7 directly relates to workforce. And #13 can easily speak to the value of a strong workforce.

Perhaps I just need to understand the World of Lean better. Any opinions on the list?

Short cuts August 7, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Innovation, Media, Technology, Workforce.
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I miss my regular blog-scan. I’ve been swamped and it’s been too long since I surfed my favorite sites for the latest. So I’m hanging out late tonight to get caught up on the thoughts from around the web. Here’s the latest:

  • Don Iannone unearths a great op-ed from Evansville, Indiana that answers the question: “Why Economic Development?
  • Knowledgeland reports that Imagine Toronto has unveiled a collaborative strategy to capitalize on and strengthen its position in the creative economy. (From a graphic design point of view, it’s one of the best white paper reports that I’ve seen in a long time. Very simple, very profound.) While agricultural and industrial economy communities are still working to align themselves with long-term economic growth, in part through innovation and creative economy drivers, the leaders are plowing ahead. It’s a tough, tough game when you’re playing from behind.
  • The Intangible Economy tells us that the numbers in self-employed are rising. 19.5 million Americans are self-employed, and it’s not all eBay auctioneers. What are the workforce and/or economic development incentives to help these people to grow their small businesses in my town – or yours? That could be one of the most profound questions of our day.
  • 21 Apples introduces us to EducationBridges.net – kind of like a MySpace for educators. What a great idea – sharing best practices with your peers around the globe. Education can only improve from this common-sense technology application.
  • On the peer-to-peer networking front, Principled Innovation introduces us to IBM’s InnovationJam. Again, powerful social networking to leverage the world’s creative minds to solve incredible problems. How might these social networking venues be leveraged to innovate in the worlds of workforce or economic development? Do we NEED conferences or summits – or are they meetings for the sake of holding meetings? In this digital world, there are other means to convene, other manners of problem-solving (and those approaches generally work better for peoples’ schedules!). We need to continue to look in this direction.
  • The BostonWorks HR Blog links to an NPR piece on the “3rd Act” – what retiring Baby Boomers are trying to do for work…and some of the challenges that they face. With the contraction of the workforce due to Baby Boomer retirements, this is not just their individual challenge – it’s the challenge facing every community, workforce planner and economic developer who is serious about wanting to keep their community sustainable past 2020.
  • Another BostonWorks HR Blog entry – this one indicating that the “glass ceiling” for women may be more real than we thought.
  • BostonWorks Job blog indicates that now is a good time to be a newly-minted MBA grad. And the competition for BizSchool seats is getting tougher.
  • Yes, yes, yes! From the Performance & Talent Management blog: Fortune Magazine suggests that good human resources management can be THE key to higher revenues. Finally, someone realizes that hiring good people and turning them loose to succeed is a way to victory in the business wars.

Education alignment info; Research on “Work” July 20, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education, Media, Research, Workforce.
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Thanks to Don Iannone at Economic Development Futures Journal, I came across the following two pieces of information that have the potential to tie the world of education into the emerging workforce-economic development spectrum.

First, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills released a new report, “Results That Matter: 21st Century Skills and High School Reform,” that details where a combination of business and education professional leaders feel that education must go in order to ensure ongoing competitiveness of our nation’s workforce. The real surprising piece to me is that the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers put their organization’s names on this – right next to some of the most powerful businesses in the country. This is a very, very strong piece that everyone interested in this topic should download and read.

Forbes online offers a wonderful, resource-rich collection of articles related to in-depth research that they did on the concept of work. Everything from the first jobs of some of our nation’s leaders to surveys of attitudes toward work to the jobs of the future…and the past. Great work. I hope that this collection of articles is available in print – I’ll have to run out to the bookstore to see if Forbes put this project in its latest edition. (UPDATE: I checked this week’s Forbes…the online content was referred to but not published. If you want to read it, I’d strongly suggest you read the content online soon because you never know when content will be pulled from a website!)

No filler today – just meaty information from people who know. Enjoy!

“England gets it” July 18, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Media, Opinion, Technology, Workforce.
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In an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel and picked up on the wire, John Bersia relays his favorable impressions of County Durham, England – a region with a tech park and a development strategy to propel it forward. It’s the strategy that Bersia likes, one that has themes related to the alignment of workforce and economic development:

In the 21st century, though, the fighting spirit emanates from a different source: pure necessity, namely, the revitalization of an ailing industrial region.

As for the planning, it starts with a mission that properly emphasizes prosperity, sustainability and quality of life. It continues with a realistic assessment of current and potential strengths. Instead of trying to reach in all directions, this region decided that its future beckons from a manageable cluster: health care and health science, energy and the environment, and process industries, such as chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

From that point, the strategy seeks to build the region in key ways. Some, such as welcoming new businesses and growing others through assistance and economic incentives, are common in many parts of the world. But others, such as a sweeping focus on learning, education, training and entrepreneurship, are refreshingly bold, not to mention vital to global competitiveness.

Perhaps most important, the view here is truly toward the long term. This region and the rest of England clearly are positioning themselves for a rapid, rough romp through the global economy, not merely to complete the ride but to arrive first.

A nice summation of what appears to be a strong strategy – one that any community could consider.

The whole notion of revitalizing (or transforming) an industrial society to become an information/knowledge/innovation/creative society is very interesting to me – some recent travel has prompted this line of thinking. I’ll post more on that topic later.

Google move highlights value of strong university system July 17, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Media, Research, Technology, Workforce.
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Buried at the bottom of an earlier post is a mention about Google looking to open a major facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For the Midwest, where I am located, this is a very significant development. The President of the University of Michigan appears to agree with me. In a recent Detroit Free Press op-ed, President Mary Sue Coleman shares her perspective, offering up themes that we’ve been exploring on this blog – that workforce (presumably developed by a top education and training system) will end up being a significant driver of economic development activity. In her article, she states:

Google’s announcement marks an important turning point for our state, one that showcases the importance of collaboration and innovation as the economic model for Michigan’s future.

Knowledge is the currency of the 21st Century, and Google cofounder Larry Page recognizes the rich resource of educated employees that awaits him in Michigan. By locating near U-M, and less than an hour from Michigan State and Wayne State Universities, Google — and the spin-off companies it undoubtedly will generate — will benefit from a steady stream of talent and fresh ideas.

Research universities help generate the kind of synergy that is vital to our state’s turnaround as a hub for high-tech jobs. Our institutions are an impetus for attracting and nurturing talent, creativity and venture capital. We are a magnet for companies, large and small, that want to operate in communities that take risks and seek new knowledge critical for improving our lives, our society and our understanding of the world.

I admire her vision – actively positioning one of the Midwest’s top research universities as not just a component but a leader of a knowledge-based economic transformation in the Great Lakes State. She’s been at this level for some time, apparently, as this article about her larger vision for research driving innovation and economic development indicates.

The transformation of the automobile manunfacturing-driven economy has been wrenching for Michigan, and Google’s decision is an indicator that a move away from that economic model is indeed possible.

An immigration fix? June 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Media, Workforce.
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This St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial offers a mixed bag solution to the immigration debate – boosting the number of H1-B visas to satisfy demand for highly skilled workers and allowing a number of temporary visas for low-skilled/non-skilled workers.

The H1-B proposal, in my opinion, makes perfect sense. Here’s how the newspaper described the situation:

The American economy grows by innovation, and innovation requires smart people with technical skills. The more such people we have around, the faster our economy will advance. Historically, we’ve grown most of our own innovators and relied on immigration for the rest. Albert Einstein, after all, was a Swiss immigrant.

Right now, we’re not developing enough scientists and engineers with the right skills to fill the needs of American corporations.

I’m still not convinced that their solution on the low-skilled side makes sense. Rather than pull the wrong quote, I’ll leave it up to you to click on their link. Perhaps we can have some dialogue in the comments.