Part 3: Job Training Dilemma

Corporate America still sees job training as an expense not an investment. When there is a budget crunch in a company, one of the first functions to be cut is job training. That’s the way it always was. In the latter part of the 20th century, training professionals sought “a seat at the table.” This means that training professionals have been trying to get access to top management by being present at top level decision-making processes. Having a vice presidential post in the top management organizational chart is a move in the right direction. For many years, training has been delivered both synchronously (live sessions) and asynchronously (stored sessions delivered at scheduled times) over the Internet. In fact, primary and secondary education is delivered over the Internet, not only just college-level curricular activities. The training function has been outsourced, at times off-shored, and perhaps even “outlawed” in the spirit of using the on-the-job training option, and using “temps” who need to “hit the ground running.”

The velocity of change has certainly hindered the job training process. The U.S. educational system has had a difficult time keeping up with the types of skills needed in order to determine the appropriate courses or workshops to offer students. The PC revolution of the 1980’s put a computer on every desktop. No longer was the “mainframe” locked up in an air-conditioned room. The Internet revolution has allowed continuous communication around the world. Your customer service call is answered by someone in another country and perhaps from another continent! Many operations within a company are run by project management. Once the defined “project” has been completed, all team members are dispersed to another project. As happens mostly these days, the team members have been hired on as independent consultants, they are not employees of the company, and thus must find another assignment to keep working steadily.

The idea of “work” has evolved from employment at one company until one retires to a series of jobs, perhaps even careers, until one retires.

As an industrial age society, we built our schools to inculcate children with the factory process. Whistles called the people to work, a school bell called students to school. The school bell rang at the end of the school day, factory whistles signaled the end of the work day. Everything was regimented. The school day was divided into several segments of learning. The teacher stood in the front of the room lecturing and the students sat (supposedly very still) listening and hopefully learning. The late 20th century educational system evolved to accommodate more effective learning strategies thanks to the computer and the Internet.

The McKinsey Report (2011) entitled “Internet Matters: The Net’s sweeping impact on growth, jobs, and prosperity” states “The Internet has transformed the way we live, the way we work, the way we socialize and meet, and the ways our countries develop and grow.” This has all happened in about two decades.  That’s only 20 years! Only 20 years.

When we don’t have a continuous policy of job training whether on the national or local level, how can we adjust to change, let alone such rapid change as that caused by technology.  Is it a question of who is responsible for job training of the individual? I think it is. Sometimes help is given from the national level or the regional or local level to the individual worker. This help depends upon whether the worker was part of a large lay-off or did the individual just quit his/her job or was he/she fired. Large lay-offs cause enough economic concern that they make the headlines and perhaps politicos are motivated to “do something.” Whether a worker is coming to the unemployment office from “Humongous & Company” or “Teenie & Son”, the policy and procedure should be the same. Because of budget cuts and other fiscal shenanigans, employment offices get closed, programs get cut. Maybe the programs deserve to be cut because they are no longer relevant to the goal of getting workers back to work. That’s great, fine tune the job training system because it’s been a “response” mechanism instead of an “anticipation” system all its life.

Although we do not have crystal balls to anticipate all the new jobs being created by the rapid advances in technology and Corporate America’s response to these advances by creating new jobs, we have a pretty good idea of the skills needed for white collar jobs and blue collar jobs. Unfortunately older workers have been decimated by the job losses of the last few years. Getting them up to speed quickly enough to perform many of the newer jobs now available is not feasible. Everything has a “learning curve.” Companies want a “contract” employee to hit the ground running even though he/she does not know anything about the company’s informal network. Expectations of performance are extremely high so the idea of an apprentice program makes more sense. Technology and the Internet have compressed “time” so much that a sense of urgency pervades our lives, especially in Business because of instantaneous communication.

Maybe the answer to a “skills-ready” employment force is constant compulsory skills evaluation of all working people. Uh, oh, the work compulsory is a scary word isn’t it! It smells of “there oughta be a law.” Well, how about there “oughta” be a lifelong evaluation process for workers. As jobs and industries start to fade away, workers in these industries can be identified and evaluated for job training elsewhere. Too bad our forefathers could not foresee such a dilemma. Perhaps if our Constitution stated “life, liberty, job training, and the pursuit of happiness,” legislation passed throughout our history might have been more long sighted and better funded.

There are those who want the elimination of the Dept. of Labor (as well as other Federal agencies). The general feeling is that whenever the “government” gets involved things get too expensive and too complicated. That reasoning is true but some structure and oversight is needed to control and guide good intentions to desirable outcomes.

For information on the history of job-related legislation enacted by Congress, see this link.

For Part 1 of this series, see: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs and the Mono-economy of the New Millennium

For Part 2 of this series, see: Past prescriptions to the jobs employment problem

For Part 4 of this series, see: Part 4: Jobs & jobs training, the more things change, the more they stay the same

Part 5A: Jobs and the Re-tooling of an Industrial Titan: Chicago

Part 5B: Jobs Training and the search for long-term solutions

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Part 2: Past prescriptions to employment problem

Politicians get elected on the promise of jobs. Budgets get money on the promise of jobs. Cities give tax credits on the promise of jobs. Laws are passed for the “purpose of creating jobs”. So where are the jobs? Here’s a very recent example of a “jobs program”, the Oscar Meyer story in Davenport, Iowa: “…funded in part by a lucrative $15 million incentive package from the State of Iowa and the city of Davenport. The new plant will employ approximately 475 workers— about one-third the number currently employed in Davenport…” Link to story:  http://fortune.com/2015/11/25/oscar-mayer-closes/

I think a look at history may help put things in focus. The United States is not the only nation facing employment dilemmas in the year 2015. We have a short history as a nation compared to our European or Asian counterparts, but our history encompasses the evolution of the meaning of “work,” how the status of the worker has evolved, and the business view of an “able” employee. By “able” I mean a person capable of doing the job as visioned by the employer.

In the 1700’s and 1800’s, apprenticeships were applied for and “paid for” with servitude by the potential learner. The apprentice was indentured to the tradesman for the duration of a contract. Perhaps a son was fortunate enough to be taught his father’s craft. Whether it was tailoring, shoe-making, stone cutting, or carpentry, it was passed down the family generation after generation. In 1937 the U.S. enacted the National Apprenticeship Law. There was a Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training organized in the Dept. of Labor. In 1962 in order to help the disadvantaged, Federal regulation was enacted to ensure nondiscrimination in training and apprenticeships. Outreach programs to the unemployed were implemented under the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962. Apprenticeship Information Centers were operated by state employment services. Many high schools, vocational schools and technical schools offered preparatory courses for entering an apprenticeship program. According to Apprenticeship Past and Present, (U.S. Dept. of Labor publication), in 1969 there were 250,000 registered apprentices working in the U.S. This was the highest number of apprentices in U.S. history. The average age was between 16 and 24 years of age. The U.S. was deep into the post-Industrial Age and waking up to the fact that people needed training to prepare for changing job economics in 1962.

There is an Office of Apprenticeship in the Dept. of Labor today (year 2015). A directive was written in 2006 entitled Vision for 21st Century Apprenticeship. There are* four websites mentioned in the directive which reference apprentice programs:

*Editor’s note (10/9/2016): two of the website, Workforce3one.org, and Working solutions.org, are no longer available for use.

Apprenticeships are one way to help solve the U.S. unemployment situation. What is very extremely disturbing is that individuals may not be ready educationally to enter any job training program. For example, according to the New York Times (Fighting Illiteracy in Chicago, With Enthusiasm, January 14, 2010), Chicago’s illiteracy rate was 53%; the national average was 23%. These are adults who cannot demonstrate basic reading proficiency. So how can these adults qualify for an apprentice program? Obviously they cannot, not without adequate schooling.

…More about Chicago in another posting.

Here’s Part 1 on this series on Jobs.

Here’s Part 3 on this series on Jobs.

Here’s Part 4 on this series on Jobs.

Here’s Part 5A on this series on Jobs.

Here’s Part 5B on this series on Jobs.

Part 1: Jobs and Mono-economy of New Millennium

There is a saying” if your neighbor loses his job, it’s a recession, if YOU lose your job, it’s a Depression!”
I’m planning on posting a 5-part series on the subject of jobs. Ironically, my articles on the subject of jobs were first written in the year 2011 and guess what!…not much has changed. Oh, the “year” has changed, the U.S. debt is “way” larger, Wall Street is making more money than ever, Main Street is losing jobs through mergers (Big Time!) and Corporate America is “inverting” itself so they don’t have to pay any taxes. Here’s Investopedia definition of “corporate inversion.” Definition: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/corporateinversion.asp?layout=infini

Everyone tries to avoid paying taxes at one time or other. Ironically, the current interpretation of U.S. tax laws allows for corporate “inversion.” When people or institutions try to evade taxes which is an illegal act, and not just avoid taxes which is a legal act, then “things” get interesting. As usual I seem to easily divert from my original topic so I apologize and now back to the topic of “jobs.”

What has triggered this set of postings is an article from Fortune Magazine entitled “Former Disney Workers Are Planning to Sue Their Old Employer”. Basically these litigants are using Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prevents employers from discriminating against an individual based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” In this case, the basis of the lawsuit contends” they are being replaced with subcontracted H-1B, and other temporary work visa, holders.” In other words, firing U.S. citizens and replacing them with non-U.S. citizens. Here’s the link to the Fortune article:
Former Disney Workers Are Planning to Sue Their Old Employer
This link to ComputerWorld has more details: http://www.computerworld.com/article/3007933/it-careers/two-dozen-disney-it-workers-prepare-to-sue-over-foreign-replacements.html

A part of me says, “I love it, the worm has turned!” Instead of Title VII being invoked for race or gender infractions of the law, it’s being used to fight against the off-shoring or perhaps on-shoring of aliens to take American jobs. I know it’s economics, cost-effectiveness, etc, etc. But I’ve been a “victim” of this practice more than once and it goes back to the 1980’s. Hiring “temps” has been going on for a very long time, it’s just not fair sometimes… just not fair.

Just a preview: future posts will discuss job training, the U.S. government’s approach to job training, and a focus on Chicago’s past treatment of job training. Well, that’s the plan and the vision.

Here’s a link to Part 2: Some Past “Prescriptions” to the Jobs Employment Problem

Here’s a link to Part 3:  Jobs, Jobs, Jobs and the Job Training Dilemma

Here’s a link to Part 4: Jobs & Jobs Training, the more things change, the more they stay the same

Here’s a link to Part 5A: Jobs and the Re-tooling of an Industrial Titan: Chicago

Here’s a link to Part 5B: Job Training and the search for  long-term solutions

A vending machine mentality

I can’t recall what year it was, but I was in downtown Chicago at the Union Station train depot. I saw a vending machine (not an unusual sight by any means!) but THIS vending machine was selling GOLD Bullion. Wish I could remember the year because then I could better relate the economic environment then versus now.

What does a vending machine offer? Convenience, access, impulse buying, anonymity, all are appropriate reasons for using one. Well, anonymity is a “relative” term because I don’t think the machine accepted cash, the buyer needed to use a credit card. Mmm, I wonder if the vending machine had a coin return?

OK, so I’m just playing a little with my mind and maybe yours! Actually it’s our psyche that’s being played with. After all, our society has “grown up” with vending machines; we may even, once in a while, look for a vending machine. They were sure big in the day of 75-cent packs of cigarettes. Thank heavens I was a social not-really-a-smoker person in those days, I was just trying to fit in our crowd. Now, back to gold…

What does it say about a society that buys gold bullion from a vending machine??? What does it says about gold that it is sold from a vending machine? Gold is a commodity just like crude oil or corn or wheat. However, at times, gold is considered a “scarce” resource. There are the “gold bug” investors who believe in holding the bullion physically in a vault or perhaps buy gold mining stocks. There are other investors with a different opinion on investing in gold.

According to bankrate.com, “Traditionally, investing in gold has been used as a hedge against inflation.”
Read more: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/investing/pros-cons-investing-gold-1.aspx#ixzz3ry7ehyv3.

This is a quote from CNBC’s Quarterly Investment Guide: “The biggest knock against gold is that it is a nonproductive asset: There’s no productivity underlying its value, which is set by perceptions of its relative safety.”  http://www.cnbc.com/2014/07/23/best-ways-to-invest-in-gold-now.html

Here’s a short pro and con article from the British newspaper The Telegraph: “We explain the options for those who want to buy gold – and weigh up the pros and cons.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/gold/11686847/How-to-invest-in-gold.html

Actually, I don’t invest in gold, I can’t afford to!!! Ha, isn’t that a “rich” comment upon which to end a blog. However, I am ‘invested” in black gold, i.e. oil. I guess I believe in the continuity of the automobile running on gasoline for a few more years vs. Tiffany selling gold watches to the “masses.”
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Sandwich

Idea of resume is so passé!

I just read the Chicago Tribune newspaper, paper version not virtual version. I know, I know, I’m so ancient, so “not with it” or whatever the current vernacular would be. If you have been reading my blogs, you may have figured by now I’m not in my 20’s and there’s nothing wrong with being in your 20’s, it’s just not where I’m “at.” Anyway, what has triggered this posting is the “Business Section” of the Trib. Back in the day when I was in my 20’s and 30’s, the Chicago Trib, Sunday edition, was the place to look for a new job. There were pages and pages of job ads. Other than “knowing someone” or inheriting a job from a family business, the ritual was to search the Sunday Trib for leads, mail out resumes, cross your fingers, and hope for a telephone call. Incidentally, there were multiple face-to-face interviews, at least two, the initial “phone” interview did not develop until maybe the mid ‘80s, one drove to the employer’s offices even for the first interview.

What has prompted me to write this piece is the “Careerbuilder” article in this Sunday’s Tribune. Titled “The Other You”, the article gives suggestions on writing a more effective resume. I’m rather surprised that resumes are even still considered a ‘first” line of Offense in applying for a job. The Internet has germinated so many social media websites and interaction sites, a resume almost seems useless. In fact, reflecting upon my history of monetary pursuit, some of the jobs came to me from professional associations or friends. It truly was “who you know” however, the professional association referrals were because of “what I knew!” not just “who I knew.”

The jobs ads area in the “Business Section” of the Chicago Tribune is VERY small these days. In fact, another observation that has triggered my blog today is the fact that the jobs section is so small, the editors decided to devote 1 ½ pages to it. And I do mean 1 ½ pages, the page is literally half a page in size, actually since a news page is actually a piece of newsprint paper that is two printed pages, the piece of newsprint is 1 ½ pages wide, not two.  Obviously, jobs and “opportunities” are advertised elsewhere and by other means today. The issue of jobs and literally where the jobs are and who is filling those jobs and the qualifications of those jobs and the qualifications needed to fill those jobs and the education or skills necessary to qualify for those jobs is so complex…Phew!!! What a long sentence. It would seem that FaceBook, LinkedIn, and even blog sites such as WordPress are the 21st century’s replacements for 20th century resumes.

The second Democratic debate was last night, November 14, 2015. The debate was planning to be focused on the U.S. economy. Sadly, the monstrous attacks in Paris, France, instead took center stage. Many innocent people were slaughtered. The candidates, at first, did focus on military and international policy issues as should be expected. Towards the second hour of the debate, the focus did revert to domestic issues, and the ideas of free college education and needed job skills were among the debate issues. I come from a working class family. I worked full-time and went to college at night. It took me eight years to get a 4-year Bachelor’s degree and that was in 2-4 year periods with a hiatus between the 2-4 year periods. I know that “working” for what one wants makes it more “precious.” I feel that the opportunities should be available and attainable if desired, I don’t think giving college education for free solves the skills vacuum problem. Education that trains for a job, an internship, an apprenticeship, and work/school programs make more sense to me. We don’t need any more diploma mills. We do need a trained and educated workforce. And I agree that everyone does NOT need a college degree but jobs and careers “with a future” do need an educated workforce.

Here’s two links to information about the November 14 debate:

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/paris-attacks-cast-shadow-over-democratic-debate

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/us/politics/democratic-debate-cbs.html

 

Eye Crosser #13: The Reins Act

Did you watch the Republication debate on November 10? I did. I know that it is “early” in the race. I know that obviously candidates will drop out. BUT, I also know that issues and dilemmas are being discussed, debated, argued and “exposed.” There may be way too many Republication “presidential nomination hopefuls” running right now but because of their presence in the debates, issues or in this case potential legislation is brought to the “front of the line” in our awareness.

What am I talking about? In this case, Carly Fiorina mentioned the Reins Act. It caught my attention. Just what is the Reins Act? Here’s the “skinny” on the Reins Act.

Perhaps I should first state a caveat emptor because the links below refer to websites that are possibly supported by some type of PAC group. I won’t know who is behind the website but the opinion and information will help one to form some type of understanding about this proposed bill in Congress. I noticed that the bill was brought to the U.S. legislature by Rand Paul, senator from Kentucky, who is also running for President of the United States along with Carly Fiorina.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/keyword/REINS-act

http://www.paul.senate.gov/about-rand/issues/reversing-burdensome-regulations/reins-act

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/post/reins-bill-to-expand-congressional-power-over-executive-regulations-passed-by-house/2011/12/07/gIQAs6VMdO_blog.html

http://watchdog.org/222747/reins-act-may-chance-chambers/

http://www.tedmag.com/news/channel-news/House-Passes-the-REINS-Act.aspx

I could go on and on with links but you can do a search by yourself on this subject. From what I can understand of the purpose of this legislation, it would require that laws, regulations, or rules that are “generated” by non-legislative departments of the U.S. government be voted upon by the U.S. Congress for approval if the MONETARY effects of the proposed legislation are over $100 million dollars.

 

Haves vs. Have Nots: Republican Debate #2

On October 28, 2015, the second GOP (Grand Ole Party or Republican) debate was conducted in the state of Colorado and broadcast over CABLE television ONLY. Meaning, if you did not have/pay for cable television, you could not view the presidential debate. The presidential debates are administered by the two national political parties in the United States: the Democratic party and the Republican party. If an independent candidate wishes to participate in the presidential debates, he/she must choose to run either with the Democrats or Republications in order to participate in their parties’ major debates. Currently, Senator Bernie Sanders who considers himself an Independent, is participating in the Democratic debate races for President of the United States.

I, for one, and I am sure many other Americans, would have liked to view the Republican presidential debate last night. We just did not have ACCESS! Some websites suggested visiting a friend or neighbor who has cable or finding a friendly bar that would choose to tune into the debate vs. a sports game somewhere on earth. I guess watching the debates with captions turned on would have sufficed me but not the cigarette smoke or the other loud televisions blasting away around the bar area.

The Republican candidates are many at this point in the Presidential Race. There are 15 “hopefuls” at this point in the race according to The New York Times. I believe ten of them were on-stage last night at the debate. I was able to grab an appetizer of the debate by watching a blog on MarketWatch.com.

Yes, it’s very early in the campaign season and the Republicans have a bevy of candidates chomping at the bit to be the Republican nominee to run for the Presidency of the United States, but I for one, and again think many others, are interested in just what’s going on. Candidates will drop out along the way to next year’s “Preakness” race but issues, views, opinions, observations, and current events happening about the debates and “the race” will help everyone to sort out individual opinions and decisions hopefully on whom he/she will finally vote.

This event was not a “publicly” sponsored event; no government money (that I’m aware of) was spent to host or mange the debate. It was privately funded by all the PAC money collected by the Republican party through individual and corporation donations (thanks to Citizens United decision). Here’s an article in U.S. News & World Report about the court’s decision five years after the decision.  U. S. News & World Report

Are situations like this creating a “third world” atmosphere here in the United States? You be the judge, I am. As “Deep Throat” said in the motion picture All the President’s Men, “Follow the money.”