EDUCATION CLOSES THE CHASM BETWEEN WORKERS, REAL JOBS
Local dean pitches real-world training at the regional level
Author(s): DEAN CALBREATH U-T Date: January 30, 2011 Section: Business
Mary Walshok was a teenager when the Sputnik satellite crossed the skies in 1957, challenging America’s belief that it was the world’s leading technological power.
“When the Russians beat us into space, there were fears that America was just not going to be competitive,” Walshok recalled. Schools put more emphasis on math and science, and the government pumped more money into research and education. Within a dozen years, the U.S. landed the first man on the moon, reasserting its technological leadership.
Even before President Barack Obama referred to Sputnik in his State of the Union address last week, Walshok — the dean at University of California San Diego Extension — was saying that America needs another “Sputnik moment” to prod it into a new wave of innovations.
In her recent book “Closing America’s Job Gap” — co-written with assistant dean Henry DeVries and economist Tapan Munroe — Walshok argues that education and innovation are the keys to solving the current economic malaise.
Some economists say that’s not the main problem. Last week, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman and Michael Lind of the liberal New America Foundation each wrote that America is already a center of innovation and a mere shift in job-training efforts won’t address the root causes of our economic problems, which have more to do with such thorny issues as trade laws, monetary policy, access to finance and policing Wall Street.
But Walshok insists that better training can play a key role in future development. “Right now there’s a lack of alignment between where our education and training are concentrated and where the jobs are growing, such as clean energy or health care technology.”
The U-T talked to Walshok last week about innovation and training. Here is what she had to say:
Q: What’s the biggest difference between how America responded to its first Sputnik moment and what the nation is doing today?
A: For one thing, colleges and universities across the U.S. are not doing enough to help students cross the bridge to real careers. And we should focus more of our training on jobs that we can grow in regional platforms, whether that means training more workers to do such things as providing home health care, developing IT systems for hospitals or creating websites that can help local companies grow. You don’t get the know-how for those jobs out of thin air. You get it from education and training.
Q: Is it really just a lack of training? U.S. workers are often sent to China or India to train other people to do their jobs. The U.S. workers are obviously well-trained, but they can’t compete with the low pay.
A: It’s not just pay. The world leaders in wind energy, for instance, are Denmark and Germany. Those workers are paid as much or more than we are, with full health and retirement programs and shorter work weeks. But they’re better-trained for new technologies.
Q: But when you compare us to Denmark and Germany, doesn’t that have to do with government policy, since their governments have long provided incentives for companies involved in new technologies?
A: There are areas where we, as a nation, can have a role. We probably need a national or statewide strategy to target industries we have the opportunity to excel in and then to train workers for those industries. In times of war and crisis, this country can be incredibly swift to mobilize training programs. Just look at the technical training programs in the Army and Navy. Those programs are there because there’s a consensus that we need people who can work with computers and repair the machinery.
That sounds like a national industrialization policy but it’s not. If you take an issue as broad as alternative energy, for example, and set that as a goal, there are lots of ways that different regions throughout the country can adapt to that. The things that we do in San Diego — with solar panels and fuels from algae — might be totally different than what they focus on in Michigan or South Carolina. Instead, they might focus on new vehicles or high-speed trains or developing materials to build energy-efficient skyscrapers.
Q: But even if we can develop new industries in the United States, what’s to keep them here instead of migrating to China or other countries?
A: For one thing, we should look at how our taxes and regulations affect companies. Sometimes, our tax policies drive jobs away. Qualcomm, for instance, is investing billions of dollars in a manufacturing facility in Taiwan. One reason it’s building there is that our tax laws make it harder for companies to repatriate money that they’ve earned abroad into the U.S.
Also, not all jobs can move abroad. Even if solar panel manufacturers move to China, we still need solar panel installers. There are other areas that will stay here, such as retrofitting buildings to make them energy-efficient.
Q: How well is San Diego poised for the future?
A: We’ve been lucky in San Diego because we have $2 billion in federal research and development money that comes in to places like UCSD and Scripps. But the central preoccupation of the downtown leadership has been on building sports stadiums and hotels. We need to put more focus on the keys that benefit regional prosperity: training our work force and helping develop production facilities for more locally based technologies.
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The State of the Union: job creation
By Mary Walshok & Henry DeVries
Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 12:01 a.m.
Tuesday night’s State of the Union address is an opportunity to focus the national agenda on what Americans care about most: jobs. Unless President Barack Obama and the new Congress can fully commit to stimulating startup companies that create good jobs and invest in retraining to retain good jobs, the nation will lose its global competitiveness.
America’s economic future does not depend on finding the next General Motors, General Electric or General Mills. Forget these old generals, focus on the privates – the new high-growth private companies. Research from the Kauffman Foundation shows that since 1980 startup firms under five years old account for nearly all net job growth in the United States. However, most of these companies require skills and knowledge that most Americans don’t have because of rapid changes in technologies and global markets.
Job creation opportunities are tremendous if the federal government can better align training with America’s growing innovation sectors: health care information technology, digital media, precision manufacturing and retrofitting buildings to new environmental standards. This can best be done by modifying existing workplace skills or helping recent college graduates and mature adults bridge to new jobs.
Here are five ideas Obama could urge Congress to pursue to stimulate jobs:
- Grow bottom up, not top down. Rather than federal top-down strategies for job creation, evidence confirms that a bottom-up approach that harnesses the wisdom of local communities is essential. The federal government needs to invest regionally in the kinds of collaborations that are already producing good jobs in high tech, biotech and clean tech, for which specialized training may be needed.
- Encourage startups. Congress needs to create and keep good jobs in America by supporting innovative startup companies that create jobs and by providing incentives for retraining people to be qualified for the new skills and technologies these startups need.
- Support regional business clusters. In today’s environment, regions need to be thinking about the industry clusters that can harness their assets to grow innovative new enterprises that can contribute to job creation. Governments in advanced countries around the globe have launched numerous programs to promote growth-producing collaboration in key industry clusters. We need regional cluster strategies which maximize the resources needed for regional prosperity. Bring together the four key players in economic growth – the research community, the entrepreneurs and investors, the economic development associations, and the educators and workforce training organizations.
- Tax incentives for training and tuition assistance programs. Investment in employee training needs a boost. According to the University and Professional Continuing Education Association, employers recognize the importance of employee education to remain competitive. But cash-starved startups could use some government help. There also needs to be incentives for colleges and training organizations to offer flexible formats and schedules as most adults are balancing work and family demands with their education.
- Think globally. Congress needs to stimulate training programs to assure America’s work force has a clear sense of the enormous effects of globalization and new technologies on all industries and all workers and what they must do to be competitive. Six out of 10 university students believe their education has not prepared them to address these issues, according to a 2010 IBM survey of 3,600 students.
These are not new ideas. As Ben Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Esteemed management guru Peter Drucker 30 years ago said, “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.”
What is new is that we are rapidly moving away from our grandfather’s high-school based economy. Research from Georgetown University in 2010 revealed the growing disconnect between the types of jobs that employers must fill and the number of Americans with the right education and training.
Many great new jobs can be created by innovations in technology that are being developed through university research labs and innovative startup companies across the nation. But only if the president and Congress can give Americans the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and learn new skills to get the jobs innovation creates.
Walshok, dean of UC San Diego Extension, and DeVries, assistant dean of UC San Diego Extension, are co-authors of the new book “Closing America’s Job Gap: How to Grow Companies and Land Good Jobs in the Age of Innovation.”
February 8, 2011 | 9:00 am
Employers aren’t adding jobs, schools are cutting jobs, and China’s economy might soon surpass ours. But don’t worry, America. This is our Sputnik moment, as President Obama said in his State of the Union address. And somehow we shall overcome.
But how, exactly? Well, by educating and training people to do the jobs that we’ll need in the future, according to Obama. And researchers from UC San Diego think they know what those jobs are. In a new book, “Closing America’s Job Gap,” Mary Walshok, Tapan Munroe and Henry DeVries list the top 10 innovative sectors where the jobs might be.
They include the obvious — geriatric healthcare and green jobs — and some of the not-so-obvious.
“The future is bright if job seekers can figure out how to align continuing education with America’s areas of successful innovation,” Walshok said. “The array of job opportunities is dazzling for workers who are willing to be retrained.”
Want to know where she thinks those dazzling opportunities are? Check out the list below.
Embedded engineering. As that creepy Xoom Super Bowl commercial showed, soon everyone will have iPods — or devices that look like them — and also wear white hoodies that they miraculously keep clean. But how will they play games on those devices while they’re walking to their dull trains? Through processors that you design if you’re a software engineer doing embedded engineering.
Mobile media. For those of you who skipped over the first entry, shame on you. It had some very important information about how cellphones are taking over the world. And because they are, there will be lots of jobs for people who design games, videos and apps for these phones and other mobile devices.
Occupational health and safety. Apparently, we have been made too dumb by our mobile devices to realize we are slumping over our computer screens and getting RSI from playing too much Angry Birds. Occupational health and safety experts will help us be safer and healthier at work, and also enforce the laws that try to make us safer and healthier.
English translation and foreign languages. Swahili is taking over the world! OK, not really. But researchers say language and translation skills are going to be very important in the coming decade. Those who speak both English and Spanish will be especially well off. Although a little familiarity with Swahili can’t hurt.
Renewable energy and green jobs. You’re probably sick of hearing about green jobs. But like it or not, we’re going to be green as Kermit in a few decades. Electric vehicle development, wind design, environmental consultation should all be rich fields in the upcoming years.
English as a foreign language. Swahili may be taking over the world, but the world still wants to learn English. And who better to teach them than you, native English speaker? Researchers say that half of the world’s population will speak English by 2015.
Action sports innovators. Did you just say “Wha?” I did too. But according to the researchers, the surf-skate industry is growing like mad. Apparently, the world is learning English, building wind farms and learning to hang ten. Blame Tony Hawk.
Independent consulting. Why work for a big company that gives you health benefits, vacation time and retirement benefits when you can work for yourself? Researchers say that because there aren’t that many jobs available now, workers might as well set up shop for themselves. There are jobs for everyone in independent consulting, from “fine cabinet making” to “catering,” they say.
Geriatric healthcare. Sorry, baby boomers. You’re getting old. And all that aerobic dancing and pot smoking you did in your youth is going to catch up with you, but your guilt-ridden children won’t be able to pull the plug. So. Someone’s going to need to take care of you. And that’s going to mean a lot of jobs — for people who have the patience to take care of aging boomers.
Welding, pipe fitting and mechanics. Someone’s got to weld all those solar panels together. Or fix the electric car someone else built. As the “new economy” picks up, workers will be needed to repurpose America’s economy. Or else they’ll be needed to weld the broken country back together.
– Alana Semuels
10 Things To Ask Your Boss For Instead Of A Raise
Feb. 4 2011 – 12:31 pm | 5,569 views | 5 recommendations | 0 comments
By JENNA GOUDREAU
The economy may be thawing, but companies are still reticent to offer promotions or significant raises this year. “There isn’t much mobility in companies right now,” says Kathy Kane, SVP of talent management for staffing firm Adecco. “The raises we are seeing are typical annual merit increases of around 3%.”
However, employees can round out their employment packages and boost the value of their jobs by negotiating for nontraditional perks that ultimately benefit both parties. “Perks are a cost-effective way to say ‘thank you’ to staff and improve morale and productivity,” says Andy Denka, senior executive director of staffing service Accountemps.
A recent Accountemps poll of over 1,400 companies revealed that one in four businesses plan to add subsidized training and education, flexible schedules or telecommuting and mentoring programs in 2011 to retain or attract top talent.
This year, employees should leverage their negotiating power by getting creative. If a raise is out of the question, ask your boss for one (or more) of these 10 perks.
1. More regular feedback.
Razor Suleman, chief of I Love Rewards, a creator of web-based rewards programs for companies like Microsoft and 3M, says the No. 1 thing that millennial workers want is feedback. Performance reviews don’t speak to them, he says, because they want real-time feedback and recognition from their supervisors.
The good news? “Feedback is free,” says Suleman. Even if spending is frozen, every employee should invest in their own growth and edification by asking their boss for this priceless resource.
2. Greater responsibilities.
Oftentimes, raising your hand for a project you’re passionate about will lead to a promotion and salary increase down the line, says Suleman, adding that Gen X and Gen Y workers are inspired by meaningful and challenging work.
Asking to be the lead on an interesting project, jumpstart an initiative or work with another department will boost your skills and experience. It may also make your job more fun.
3. Flexible schedules and the tools to work flexibly.
In a recent survey by Adecco, employees said work-life balance was as valuable to them as their salaries. According to Kane, time is more important to employees than ever before, as many have been forced to take on multiple job functions and work longer hours.
With 24% of surveyed companies planning to offer more flexible options this year, now is a great time to ask your boss for a compressed or flexible schedule, to work from home a few days a month or to take Friday half-days.
At the same time, it’s crucial for employees hoping to regain some time to ask for the tools to enable more flexible work, like smartphones, laptops, network connection and necessary software installation. Plus, it’s good for business. A connected employee can be productive from anywhere.
4. Professional organization memberships.
Henry DeVries, an assistant dean of UC San Diego and co-author of Closing America’s Job Gap, believes a successful benefits negotiation will align your personal interests with the company’s interests. Professional organizations and industry conferences equip you with skills and networking opportunities that benefit your career and the company.
“People need constant development activities,” agrees Kane. “It’s usually a small expense that goes a long way toward employee satisfaction.”
5. Paid days off to volunteer.
According to Suleman, “corporate responsibility days” are catching fire. Instead of asking for additional paid vacation time, he suggests asking for five days per year to devote to volunteer work. Not only will employees have more time to devote to causes they are passionate about, it’s an act of service on the company’s part.
6. Allowances for transportation, client entertainment or education expenses.
DeVries recalls once being offered a job at an ad agency and explaining his hesitance to accept. He told the president that he worried his car wouldn’t project success to the company’s clients. “Oh, you want a car allowance, don’t you?” she responded. DeVries had never heard of a car allowance before, but nodded yes. She offered him an extra $500 a month and a paid downtown parking space.
The next time he received a job offer, he brought a list: magazine subscription allowance, client entertaining budget, professional association memberships, budget to attend networking events, education allowance, and travel budget. He got every one.
“Companies still don’t want to increase headcount, but they are concerned about keeping the most valuable employees,” says DeVries. He suggests bringing up these discretionary items at your annual performance review as a way to build out your employment package.
7. Mentoring opportunities.
“Today, it’s so important for executives to think beyond the immediate dollars and cents to items that can provide much greater financial windfall down the line,” says Kurt Weyerhauser, the managing partner of an executive search firm based in Los Angeles. “While it might be assumed that development opportunities and mentoring should occur naturally, getting such in writing can create certainty and a real benefit that otherwise might be left to happenstance.”
Asking for introduction to company leaders or a formal mentoring program should be an easy sell. It costs very little to the company and helps develop your relationships and career.
8. Guest speakers and seminars.
“The new workplace means you need to know more, but a lot of companies have cut back or eliminated training functions,” says Kane. This year, push your manager to invite interesting guest speakers or re-install classes and seminars that advance your general knowledge. Kane is seeing more firms offering foreign language training and social media series to help their workers compete. Ask for an experience that will be fun while highlighting how it will help your work.
9. Better office location.
A business may not have the budget to offer you more money, but space is easier to come by. A better office boosts employee confidence and feelings of success. Consider your options and what is available. Attaining a window, quieter corner or upgrading from a cubical to an office likely will project success to colleagues and clients and also help you feel more motivated.
10. A sabbatical.
Sabbaticals are being used to give people a break and can be mutually beneficial, says Kane. Typically these unpaid leaves of absence last a few months, but Kane believes that a long lapse can be threatening. Instead, asking the company to secure your position for a few weeks may be a win-win.
The employee is able to recharge or pursue a personal passion, which helps deflect feelings of burnout. Kane says that businesses realize burnout damages productivity and ultimately the bottom line, so workers have leverage to negotiate for the time they need.
Peirce: Training millions of new skilled workers
By Neal Peirce
Washington Post Writers Group
Posted: 02/04/2011 01:00:00 AM MST
There’s a clear road map out of America’s big job gap – our stumbling recovery from the Great Recession.
And it’s not just about restoking our consumer economy. Rather, it’s about training millions of new skilled workers — as rapidly as we can. And the secret lies in targeted efforts inside our metro regions.
That’s the message of “Closing America’s Job Gap,” a new book whose lead author is Mary Walshok, the dean of university extension at the University of California at San Diego who is well-practiced in the art of regional skill-building.
With colleagues Tapan Munroe and Henry DeVries, Walshok suggests we can’t expect that big industrial firms, tied to a slowed-down consumer economy, will pull us out of our prolonged job dearth. Instead, the growth potential lies with small startup and growth firms. But those firms, heavily focused in knowledge-based activity, are running into a real shortage of qualified workers with technical, engineering, math and science skills.
One reason: Skill requirements are rising fast — in 1991 fewer than half of U.S. jobs required skilled workers, by 2015 more than 75 percent will require special skills.
But there’s an added problem. We have what Walshok and her co-authors call a “broken education-to-employment system, which is dangerously disconnected from America’s globally respected research leaders.”
I asked Walshok why the system is broken? Her reply: Too little is done at the regional level, where employers and jobs actually interrelate, to identify the clusters of companies and then match training programs to qualify workers for opening jobs.
Colleges and community colleges, for example, presumably produce graduates who can think, analyze and read manuals. “But they’re turning out people who can’t do anything” — as simple, Walshok suggests, as working with spreadsheets, building a website or describing a complex piece of technology such as an iPad application. So targeted post-graduate job training becomes crucial.
The demand for science and engineering jobs has been growing by about 5 percent a year, and the country has more than 2 million jobs unfilled because of lack of skills — a situation that would be even worse without immigration (now imperiled) of scientists and engineers into the United States.
Some cities and regions are starting to respond. “Chicago Career Tech,” for example, is a new program launched by Mayor Richard M. Daley to take in middle-class workers adrift in the current recession and retrain them for technology careers. It’s a six-month, six-day-a-week program that combines broad career and professional development with hands-on employer-based learning with participating local companies.
The specific fields the Chicago program covers — among them digital media, computer network management, web design and telecommunications — are samples of the broad field that Walshok and her co-authors list as highly relevant for today’s economy.
Other fields they identify range as far afield as marine biodiversity (gauging, analyzing changes in temperature, sea level and ocean chemistry) and health system information technology (the mountainous task of computerizing patient records, covering everything from broken arms to heart attacks to lab tests, for instant recall and analysis).
One that struck me: welders. Close to 100 percent of welding school graduates get snapped up by industries spread from aircraft manufacturing and shipbuilding to erecting and repairing bridges — not to mention mass transit and railways along with “green” industries such as building wind energy turbines.
But twice as many welders are retiring as are being trained — the U.S. shortage may be as high as 200,000, in a field that pays solid wages. Indeed, the impending retirement of about 25 million baby boomers creates a clear threat of loss of seasoned experienced workers in multiple occupations — but by the same token, massive job opportunity for properly trained replacements.
“Closing America’s Job Gap” ends with Walshok’s rather self-congratulatory — but compelling — account of how San Diego, once a sleepy cul-de-sac at California’s southernmost border, has vaulted past many famed U.S. regions to star in such areas as biotechnology and software. About 4,000 new tech firms have sprouted there in three decades, with 100,000 new high-wage jobs in life sciences and wireless sectors alone.
The story is a complex one, involving a new University of California branch and the growth of research institutions such as Salk and Scripps. But CONNECT, a civic-scientific coordinating group Walshok helped found in 1985, has been a key catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. And it’s never taken its eye off the priority, with local employers, of constant work force training and “reskilling.”
This doesn’t mean that imaginative universities and colleges, startup firms and employers can’t make progress on their own. But the possibilities for success accelerate when a region pulls together, and makes development of a highly qualified work force a top goal. “Cutting the mustard” for success in the furiously competitive 21st-century global economy will likely require no less.
Neal Peirce’s e-mail address is email@example.com.