Building the Future Through STEM [Podcast]

STEM, an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, will greatly affect the future of work. STEM is at the core of innovative technologies, driving not just the success of businesses, but medical advancements, education, and more.

The demand for tech workers and engineers is especially growing, and some worry that our educational system isn’t keeping up. When the time comes for current technical talent to retire, how can we prepare upcoming generations to take over?

Our Guest: Speaker, Author, and Futurist Rachael Mann

I was excited to welcome back Rachael Mann for a second time to the #WorkTrends podcast. Rachael is a futurist with a passion for tech and science. She frequently speaks at events across the country, channeling her 14 years of classroom teaching experience to lecture on topics ranging from disruptive technology, education, and careers. She is the author of The Spaces You Will Go, co-authored the book Martians in Your Classroom, is a founding member of the Council on the Future of Education, president-elect for the NCLA executive board, and vice-president of New and Related Services for ACTE.

One of the biggest issues STEM faces right now is education, says Rachael. Basically, schools should offer it as a part of their curriculum to make young people aware of its existence. And there need to be more opportunities for experts to teach it.

“We need to offer the right education in order for kids to be interested in STEM. But we also need the right teachers,” Rachael says. “And I think that really has a huge impact on the workforce. Students aren’t seeing science, engineering, math, and tech role models or understanding what opportunities are out there for them.”

Of course, parents play a vital role in inspiring future generations to get into STEM too.

“There are so many free resources available to parents with hands-on, fun activities. Give kids books with characters that they can relate to who are interested in science and tech. I wrote a children’s book called The Spaces You’ll Go about a little girl named Cass with her kangaroo robot, and they’re exploring space-related careers,” Rachael says. “These kinds of activities allow children to envision themselves someday in a field that they’re curious about.”

STEM: Our Future May Depend on It

By incorporating STEM into education, kids can learn from a young age that their work can have a positive impact. This early exposure can get them passionate about big world issues moving forward.

“Whether it’s this global pandemic, cybersecurity attacks … overpopulation, renewable energy,  anti-aging therapies, there are just so many problems connected to STEM,” Rachael says. “And when it comes down to it, those big problems offer the biggest opportunities for young people to change the world through their careers.”

Of course, while a lot of technical and scientific knowledge comes with STEM skill development, it’s important to focus on the human aspects of the fields as well. After all, we’re using STEM to improve life on Earth and our interactions and connections with each other.

“We have to be more human,” Rachael says. “As we think about technology and advancing the world, it’s more important than ever to focus on humanity and the skills that can’t be replaced by robots or technology.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about technology, science, and STEM education by connecting with Rachael Mann on LinkedIn.

Colleges Aren’t Preparing Students for Work– What Employers Should Do

Danny Iny dropped out of school at 15 to start a business. He also got an MBA at a top business school in Canada. Guess which decision he considers the mistake?

“My own experience was that quitting school was a great choice. I had a ton of opportunities, experimented with things that I never otherwise would have been able to,” says Iny, author of “Leveraged Learning: How the Disruption of Education Helps Lifelong Learners, and Experts with Something to Teach.” “The MBA was a huge waste of time and money, and I can’t get that time or that money back.”

Research indicates that Iny’s experience isn’t as unlikely as it may seem. The prevailing wisdom that higher-education degrees — regardless of what they cost — are good investments just doesn’t hold true for many people.

So why are colleges failing to prepare workers for the workforce? We talked with Iny about what society gets wrong about higher education and what employers can — and should — do about it.

In your book you argue that colleges are really bad at teaching students the skills they need to be successful professionals. Why do you think colleges are so bad at teaching those skills?

The simple answer is that they were never supposed to be good at it. College is like nunchucks. In Japanese martial arts, there are two weapons that students learn, the sword and the nunchucks. But they’re very, very different in how they came to be. The sword was designed to be the weapon of the samurai. Nunchucks were farm implements. You used them to thresh wheat. They were repurposed into makeshift weapons because that’s what was available in an era where people were not necessarily allowed to bear arms.

You can do a lot with something that has been shoehorned into a new purpose, but there are limits when it’s used for things it wasn’t designed for. The idea of using nonvocational higher education programs as a path to becoming a skilled professional in the modern workforce, it’s a nunchuck, not a sword. It wasn’t designed for that. It can be made to work, but it will never be sword. You can sometimes be successful at hammering in a nail with your shoe, but it’s not a hammer.

So what was college originally designed to do?

The curriculum of higher education in traditional nonvocational programs is designed around subject-matter competency. If you go through an English lit program, you‘ll graduate with knowledge of that subject matter.

College used to be more akin to finishing school though. Completing a college education was a signal, a kind of shorthand. It didn’t really matter if you were studying English lit or political science because in a lot of ways, the curriculum was just a placeholder to represent the overall experience.

It’s not to say the curriculum wasn’t valuable. But take someone who went to Harvard in the ’50s. Nobody thought they were going to have a career because of all the Jane Austen novels they read. It was everything else that was part of the package. The problem is that the rest of the package isn’t functioning the way it was supposed to. And a lot of people are looking at the curriculum saying “This doesn’t prepare students for a career.” But it was never supposed to. That’s not a fair burden to place on it.

When you say that the “rest of the package” isn’t working, what do you mean?

In the U.S. there is a two-tiered educational system. There are about 200 selective colleges, meaning they accept less than 50 percent of the people who apply. These 200 schools, the Ivy League and top schools, make up less than 10 percent of overall colleges. Those are the ones where you get the brand cachet of having the name on your resume and the alumni network.

Then there’s almost everything else, the 90-plus percent of schools out there that are not selective, that will take almost anyone who applies, but that still charge a small fortune. They don’t have all those extra value-adds that contribute to lifelong success. That’s where the real travesty happens. It’s not that you pay a quarter of a million dollars for a Harvard education and it’s not worth a quarter of a million dollars. It’s when you pay a quarter of a million dollars to go to a school that nobody’s heard of and get an education that doesn’t prepare you to do much of anything.

Why can’t colleges just do a better job training students? Are they just unwilling to adapt? Or is it that they don’t understand the problem?

Large institutions have a lot of legacy and inertia around how they work and function. It’s not just about people’s expectations; there are cost structures. One of the staggering numbers is that when you enroll in college, only 21 cents on your dollar actually go to instruction. The rest goes to everything else that’s involved in keeping the college running. (That number is from Ryan Craig.)

The people in these systems also have a particular skill set, so they need either substantial retraining or institutions need new people, which is not palatable to most of the people in higher education.

But I try to be compassionate because what people are asking of higher education is an impossible thing. We’re basically saying “I want to give you a tenth as much money, but I want you to create something 10 times as valuable.” A lot of people in higher education are doing the best they can.

So is there any hope for colleges? Or has higher education as an industry already been disrupted?

Disruption is ultimately going to happen. Because along with all the general inefficiencies, there are also systemic changes happening to the way we consume education. The shift from just-in-case to just-in-time in education means that people don’t want the big four-year program loaded with pre-reqs that don’t really have anything to do with what they’re going to do. We want a very granular, focused training on the things we actually need to know at the time we need to know them.

Take, for example, the taxi industry and Uber. Taxi companies in most parts of the world were terrible. But it took a long time for a good alternative to be available. The technology had to be there. People have to catch on to the new thing. But finally you get this critical mass, and within a couple years it seems like “Who uses taxis anymore?”

Higher education is so deeply entrenched in American society and people highly fear the consequences of a bad decision when it comes to education. And yet college enrollment has declined 7 percent in the last five years. That’s more than a million and a half people saying “No, college doesn’t make sense.” And they’re doing it at a time when there isn’t a good, clear alternative.

In 10 to 15 years it’s going to be a very, very different landscape. We’re at that stage of disruption where the old solution very clearly doesn’t work and is cost-prohibitive, but there isn’t a clear, mainstream new solution — yet.

So faced with this reality, what should employers do differently when it comes to recruiting their workforce and how they see the role of degrees and training?

First, stop doing things that don’t work. It’s not just that the degree is becoming less and less of a signal; it’s already not a good signal. It’s already not predictive of how well someone will do in a job. A lot of the most progressive companies are dropping degree requirements. The Googles and Apples and Bank of Americas and PricewaterhouseCoopers, they’re not using degree requirements anymore in entry-level or nonvocational positions.

Second, recognize that even when the degree did carry value, it only carried value as a proxy indicating if a person had certain skills or abilities. But now we can screen for the skills we need from workers using assessments and simulation tools. We don’t need degrees to signal that anymore.

The Disconnect Between our Educational System and Organizational Demand

Does our educational system leave new graduates at a disadvantage? The U.S. educational system has long been considered one of the best in the world, but in recent years, it’s stagnated. According to the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) (a triennial global study), the U.S. was the lowest-performing industrialized country—below average in math, and only hovering around average in science and reading.

Middle of the road won’t cut it in this global economy. The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently ranked the U.S. as third on the Global Competitiveness Index, behind Switzerland and Singapore, pointing to the quality of education as one of the reforms needed if we’re going to improve. We risk slipping further if we don’t do something.

This issue goes beyond the “skills gap” we often decry. It highlights a disconnect between our failing educational system and the demands of the real world. If employers want to stay strong, they’ll need to step up and ensure our students have the skills they need for success.

The Educational System Needs to Adapt

There isn’t one single challenge that’s holding young Americans back, but it’s clear that our educational system needs to adapt to a changing world—and workplace. But why does that seem so difficult?

One issue is that there are different standards for core skills. Responding to the PISA report, Harvard professor Paul Peterson, director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance, said the variation between state and local educational systems means, “We sort of have an educational system where no one’s in control.”

In countries with a strong educational system, Peterson notes, students have to do well in specific courses if they want to go on to university. “We have a more ambiguous sense of what we want our high school students to learn in this country,” he said.

At the same time, experts recognize teaching styles need to change but acknowledge there isn’t one single solution.

Traditional education uses a relatively passive transmission of knowledge: The teacher creates the lesson plan, and students are expected to absorb and retain the information. Standardized tests help parents and teachers track progress and see how each student measures up against their peers.
Traditional teaching with standardized testing is supposed to provide a level playing field for all students but doesn’t account for individual skills or learning styles. Instead, it can put learning at risk by adding pressure to students and teachers to score well.

An alternative open-ended and self-directed method of learning is gaining traction as a more viable educational program, but that isn’t a perfect solution, either. If education is shaped solely by choice instead of by a standardized curriculum, we run the risk of having students left behind in critical areas of their education.

Until the educational system improves, American students will enter the workforce at a disadvantage—putting the onus on employers to help ensure, their employees have the skills they need to compete.

How to Meet the Demands of the Workplace

According to “The Bloomberg Recruiter Report: Job Skills Companies Want But Can’t Get”, strategic thinking, communication skills, creative problem-solving, and leadership skills are among the “less familiar, more desired” skills employers are seeking. Despite the number of people graduating from higher educational institutions, employers continue to complain about a shortage of these workplace competencies.

So here’s a thought: instead of waiting for the educational system to catch up, companies can begin to take proactive approaches. These initiatives might include:

  • Internships: Internships are good for both businesses and students. Not only do they help build skills for future employees, young talent means new ideas. A firm that invests in these hands-on programs will gain a fresh perspective.
  • Mentoring Programs: A well-implemented mentoring program creates a culture of learning where employees actively teach and explain best practices to each other. Mentoring programs help level the playing field, but it also helps people at all levels of the organization stay sharp.
  • Scholarships: Scholarship programs incentivize students to reach their highest potential, regardless of the education system in which they’ve been brought up. They encourage a drive to succeed that can be impossible to measure in a qualitative way.

Some companies are also partnering with educational institutions to shape the curriculum to meet the needs of their industry better and decide which skills are immediately and tangibly valuable. According to the World Economic Forum, America’s innovation is already partly “driven by collaboration between firms and universities.” This sort of strategic engagement is more complicated but may yield better long-term results.

Embracing the Opportunities with the Challenges

Employers need to consider the shifting educational landscape and offer avenues for growth to their employees. By doing so, companies don’t just open the door to new demographics and potential talent that will provide them with direct benefits; they also broaden the scope of what we consider education and offer more cohesion between the educational system and the demands of the business world.


photo credit: Jenga game via photopin (license)

Different Options To Pursue Education As a Professional

Learning is never over for professionals in all fields. The healthcare field requires constant classes to keep up with the rapid medical advances. Changes in federal, state, or company policy, could demand that current professionals receive further certification. Sudden moves across state lines, could require you to meet state standards not required in your original state. And let’s not forget the urge to switch tracks to pursue a different career entirely could lead us back to college.

At this stage, you might feel the need to have a toddler style tantrum over the idea of sinking more money into your education. Before you hit the floor, here’s a bit of good news: written within the IRS tax code are systems designed to help United States citizens afford to pursue higher education.

Employer Education Assistance Programs

Businesses have a looong history off offering their employees education based perks to their employees and their employee’s family through scholarships, grants, and educational programs. Recently, Starbucks has upped the ante by offering to pay all of the tuition costs for employees who wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University.

The Starbuck’s education program is derived from the tax code regarding employer assistance programs. Professionals can afford college by seeking a job at a company have one of these programs. Before you dive in, here’s a fun story to let you know what you need to know:

Billy-Bob is ecstatic that his employer ForeverSadandLonely Incorporated has implemented an Employer Assistance Program. The program will give him $10,000 dollars. The HR expert Barbara Ann explained that $5,250 of the program would be tax free, the other not be $4,750 would show up on his W-2 as taxable income. The program, upholding the laws of the IRS, helped him pay for tuition, class fees, books, supplies and equipment. Billy-Bob was annoyed he would have to pay for the rock climbing and knitting class out of pocket since the government program does not cover any recreational or hobby classes.

Work Education Fringe Benefits

Whether or not your current employer offers an education assistance program, the courses you plan to take might qualify as a business deduction. Work related education fringe benefits business education are expenses spent on education that can be deducted on your tax return. In order to utilize these benefits, the educational program must meet a few different requirements.

Check out the following stories to figure out what qualifies:

Cynthia Ruth is a nurse who is being required by her employer to take a communications course and by the Idaho State government to take a refresher course on medical technology in order to maintain her job, her salary, and her status as a nurse. Due to the fact that both the courses serve a business purpose, she can file the education fees as an education fringe benefit on her tax return.

On the other hand,

Polly-Ann’s is the head of marketing. Her employer has demanded that she pursue a psychology degree to maintain her position as head of marketing to help her understand how to market more effectively to their target audience. In this case, Polly cannot file the degree as a business expense on her tax return because the degree would qualify her to enter another field.

Kelly is interning as an engineer while pursuing a bachelor in engineering from a local college. In order to maintain her position after the internship, she will need to graduate. Unfortunately, Kelly cannot file the education as a business expense because a bachelor in engineering is a minimum educational requirement for engineers by the business and the field.

If you’re education is lucky enough to qualify as a business expense, you will need to make an itemized list of all the educational costs that are tax deductible. You can find more information on the topic here.

Graduating college without student debt is extremely hard. Thankfully, the IRS financial code allows US citizens to utilize employer education assistance and business fringe benefits to pursue higher education while limiting debt. If you cannot escape all student debt, it will be up to you to come up with a manageable payment plan. Don’t forget that you can significantly decrease the overall amount paid on loans by paying off some of the loans while you are in college.

Photo credit: Bigstock

Matching Book Smarts And People Smarts

We all know that there’s more to succeeding in life than having book smarts. People skills, whether it’s understanding ourselves or working well with others, are equally important. But there’s a gap between this common understanding and the way we educate people for the world of work. So where does that gap come from, and what can we do to tackle it?

An Education Gap

As I’ve previously discussed, there’s a big gap between what businesses need from education and what the system provides. People skills are among the ones that our schools give little time to, but which we most value in employees. Communication, empathy, emotional intelligence, even persuasion and influencing – these don’t feature as subjects in the curriculum. Without a commitment from governing bodies and huge amounts of support for teachers, there isn’t time for them in the school day.

To do:

If you want to see this change then let your elected representatives know. Write to your congressman, senator and local school board. Consider getting involved with the board yourself. Democracy only works if we all participate.

An Organizational Gap

Organizations fall into the same trap of not prioritizing the skills they actually want. If you’re serious about finding employees with excellent people skills, then you can’t rely on CVs as a recruitment tool. These skills don’t appear on CVs because they aren’t reflected in the qualifications people hold or the jobs they have done.

In-house training schemes fall into the same trap. How many organizations have you ever worked with that explicitly included people skills in their staff training? And how many of those few made them a priority?

To do:

Make people skills a foundation stone of your staffing. This doesn’t just mean employing good communicators or those who understand the people around them. It means employing people who are good at reflecting on their own work, seeking to improve it and to learn from others.

Taking a more innovative approach to hiring can really help with this, and though it’s hard work the potential payoffs are huge. But training is also central. You can, and should, include training in communication, influencing, listening, emotional intelligence and self-reflection in your staff development. Until the schools can provide that training you need to do it yourself.

A Personal Gap

The gap in other people’s education is a gap in your own as well, and you can’t expect them to change if you don’t. However good your people skills are they can always get better, so take the time to develop them on a regular basis.

To do:

Take an inventory of your own people skills. Use your latest workplace assessments, and if possible seek more feedback from the people around you. Look at where your strengths are in people skills and where there are gaps. Come up with a plan for your own training to fill those gaps. And don’t just do this once – make sure to assess yourself at least once a year and look for where next to improve. The very assessment itself will help develop your self-reflection.

Re-skilling at Every Level

Dealing with such a huge training gap is a difficult task. But if you’re willing to address it on every level then you can help to make a real difference for yourself, for your employees, and for the rest of society.

About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity.

photo credit: TechCocktail via photopin cc

How Education Is Failing To Serve Business’ Needs

Education is one of the triumphs of modern civilization. According to census data, over 40% of the U.S. population has an associate degree or higher. With higher education attendance continuing to rise, it’s only a matter of time before half the population has degrees. But is all of this education really serving our needs, either as a society or as a business community?

Stirring the pot of debate

This is not an issue confined within the borders of the U.S.; it can be seen across multiple developed countries and regions. As an example, while every pronouncement of the UK government’s controversial educational secretary, Michael Gove, is stirring a storm of outrage and argument, at least he is triggering debate about education. But he has inadvertently highlighted a fundamental problem: The different sides cannot even agree on what they are arguing about because, as in the U.S., no one is asking what the education system is for.

When we set up a process within a business we ask what it is meant to do. We set it up to achieve those ends, and refine it to ensure that they are met. To do otherwise is to set ourselves up to fail.

This should also apply in education.

To what end

If the education system is to serve the needs of business, then we need to start by asking what those needs are.

Businesses need creative thinkers who can apply their skills to a variety of situations. The markets and the companies that work within them are constantly changing, as shifts in society and technology create a need for constant adaptation. The ability to think creatively, to adapt and apply, to act with initiative is as vital to business success as it is to human fulfillment and creating happy employees.

Interpersonal skills are essential. The ability to empathize with others, to understand their point of view and effectively communicate with them has two big advantages. First, it allows employees to work productively together, creating a successful working environment. Second, it allows employees to understand and communicate with their customers, to hear their needs and to meet them.

Stemming from all of this, employees need the ability to work with the information they are given, whatever that information is. To use it to understand and shape their work.

Another brick in the wall

Sadly, this is not what our education system is built around.

Our system rewards rote learning and rote thinking, using the ideas and solutions of others rather than creating your own. If every assignment is marked on citing past sources, where is the reward for coming up with your own ideas?

We don’t set out to teach interpersonal skills and communication at all, instead acting as if people will learn them by osmosis. But these are difficult, complex areas, and the proliferation of counselors and speaking coaches shows how much value we can gain from training.

As for information, we may talk about teaching how to process it, but we exam on the ability to recall facts, and so that is what the education experience focuses on. We aren’t teaching how to process information, we are teaching a small part of that information, a part which in the Internet age is already available at the push of a button. It’s not the recall of facts that matters, it’s the ability to find and sift them.

Implications and assumptions

There are many implications and assumptions behind our current education system. Some of them are old fashioned, some have emerged over time, but unless they are directly addressed they will continue to shape our education system in unhelpful ways. If we want education to meet the needs of business, then we need to state, clearly and explicitly, what those needs are and build a system designed to meet them.

photo credit: cybrarian77 via photopin cc

1+ Million Ways to Bridge the Skills Gap #TChat Recap

Many Paths Can Lead to Change

Wow, where to begin?  The #TChat Twitter stream blazed last night as the TalentCulture community brainstormed about how business organizations can help create future leaders. Paging all professionals — our students need your help!

Learning advocate and writer, Angela Maiers, moderated a passionate conversation focused on students’ need for opportunities to solve real-world problems, and mentors to guide them. She introduced us to the Quest2Matter, which challenges every student in three essential ways:

  • To accept that they matter
  • To accelerate the message that everyone matters, and
  • To act on a problem that breaks their heart.

As Angela explained in a recent Huffington Post column:

“Students are willing to not only be the change we need; they are willing to lead the change. They are not asking for permission. They are asking for respect. They want to express their passions in meaningful ways. They want to show the world that in spite of their years, they are a force to reckon with.”

Choose2MatterOur community is partnering with Angela’s organization, Choose2Matter in this important venture. By offering encouragement and expertise, business professionals can support students who are ready to solve problems that they define and “own.” Investing in our young people is an easy win for business organizations, because it develops skills that lead to a more employable work force.

There are many ways to make a difference in the future of enthusiastic students. Mentoring through Choose2Matter gives us an opportunity to do more than talk about the potential pathways. It gives us an opportunity to put our community’s innovative ideas into practice — with real-world impact.

Stay tuned for more information from Angela, as the initiative moves forward. But why wait? Reach out to Choose2Matter today, and let us know where your life as a mentor leads you!

#TChat Week-in-Review

SAT 5/4


Watch our sneak peek interview with Angela Maiers

This week’s guest, Angela Maiers, framed the week’s events in a special blog post, “Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters.”

SUN 5/5 Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, suggested “5 Ways to Build a Future Leader” in her weekly Forbes column.

MON 5/6

#TChat Preview: Our community manager, Tim McDonald, posted a special “sneak peek” video interview with Angela, and outlined the week’s theme and key questions in a preview post: “Business Case for Mentoring.”

TUE 5/7


Listen to the #TChat Radio recording

#TChat Radio: Our hosts spoke live with Angela and her Choose2Matter partner, Mark Moran about workforce readiness issues, and the potential for mentoring to make a positive impact.

WED 5/8

Partnership Post: Meghan explained why partnering with Choose2Matter makes sense for TalentCulture, and invited community members to join this mentoring movement. Read “Did You Learn Today? Pass It On.”

#TChat Twitter: Angela and Mark returned to lead the community in a real-time discussion of skills gap issues, and suggested solutions. The feed lit-up with great ideas throughout the hour. But perhaps the most important takeaway was this:

Exactly! Are you inspired? See more highlights in the slideshow and call-outs below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “The Business Case for Mentoring”

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Looking for a quick peek at Qs & As? Here’s a snapshot:

Why do you think education is falling short in the US? Or do you?

“Strong focus on standardization & grades. Not a lot of focus on learning in several ways.” @VizwerxGroup

“We need to teach kids how to think, not what to remember.” @heatherbussing

What can employers do to improve the readiness disparity (expectation vs reality)?

“Hire for culture, train & then trust.” @zacharyjeans

School-Business Partnerships Resources (shared by Jerry Blumengarten ‏@cybraryman1)

How can mentoring help make the unemployable employable again?

‏”Mentoring someone shows that you care + respect that person. That respect alone can change people” @PhilKomarny

“Skill building. Every day youre unemployed, your skills depreciate. Its important to keep them fresh.” @AshLaurenPerez

How can business leaders help bridge the skills gap and create jobs?

‏”Business leaders can share their stories w/o telling others the solutions. It’s reciprocal > Listen & learn” @AlliPolin

“Internships a must at university level & start earlier than that. Teaching at all levels can include more biz concepts.” @wmchamberlain

What technologies will help enable education-rich organizations?

“Use technology to innovate, creat,collaborate, share and engage to make a difference in bridging the skill gaps” @sonaleearvind

“Tech gives even the quietest person a voice to be heard globally.” @cybraryman1

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Angela Maiers and Mark Moran for sharing perspectives on why and how mentoring can bridge the skills gap. Your enthusiasm is infectious!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about mentoring or related issues? We’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we have a very special topic in the works! Look for a preview post this weekend.

Until then, as always, the World of Work conversation continues each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The lights are always on at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

We’ll see you on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: To learn more about Angela’s point of view, read her TalentCulture blog post, “Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters. Or listen to her December 2012 appearance on #TChat Radio “Back to the Future” Edition — when she discussed key trends in talent acquisition and development.)


Did You Learn Today? Pass It On

“To teach is to learn twice.”  –J. Joubert

I love my work. But there are challenges (understatement). Keeping pace with 21st-century talent and technology trends means commitment to a perpetual learning curve.

The “human side” of business is now a vast and fluid domain. It’s a melting pot, churning in overdrive, with talent-recruitment-engagement-performance-management-HR-bigdata-leadership-development-socialmedia-and-career-skills all colliding and transforming at every turn. Each day brings more than anyone can absorb. We all feel it. This sensory overload is the new norm.

Learning as a Way of Life

I can’t stop learning (and couldn’t if I wanted to). My career demands nothing less. I just got back from an exciting HR conference in Philly where I met fascinating, bright, dedicated people, and discovered jaw-dropping, radically innovative tools. In a word, I learned.

To be honest, there is nothing in the world I love more than learning — anywhere, anytime. Exchanging ideas in any social environment is an experience that makes my pulse race. And these days, I often feel like I’m experiencing a non-stop adrenaline rush!

It’s exhilarating to see smart people rewriting rules (even at this moment). And although it’s often exhausting to be at the heart of a global learning community like TalentCulture, I also feel alive and engaged every day. I hope you feel that way, too — and that’s why you participate.

Learning as Leverage for Others

Along with the adrenaline highs, sometimes on this “world of work” odyssey, I’m exposed to alarming challenges. And as my friend Angela Maiers explains, one of the most alarming issues today is the increasing shortage of skilled talent. It’s a reality that the business world can no longer afford to ignore.

Simply put — we are not preparing students sufficiently for today’s economy — let alone for the future of work.

On one hand, this leaves behind millions of potential workforce contributors who are considered unemployable by most standards. On the other hand, companies are struggling to find qualified talent for unfilled positions. Adding insult to injury, companies have slashed recruiting and development budgets to the bone in recent years, while simultaneously increasing their expectations for finding capable talent. This is not a recipe for success.

We Can Matter — As Mentors


See the #TChat Preview & sneak-peek video

Something must change. I know that TalentCulture community understands this.

The good news is that each of us is equipped to lead the way — with whatever time, knowledge and skills we have available. Even more good news — there are ready-made ways to “pay-it-forward” as mentors. And one of those ways is through Angela Maiers’ bold educational initiative, Choose2Matter.

Angela isn’t waiting for government or big business or educational institutions to fix the problem. Instead, she’s using her brains, her passion and her professional network to unleash a tiny movement that can make a lasting difference in the future of every student that Choose2Matter touches.

This fearless approach to “future-proofing” our nation is why Choose2Matter’s leaders are joining us this week on #TChat Radio, and on our #TChat Twitter Chat (see the preview: “Business Case for Mentoring”). And it’s why TalentCulture is committed to support Choose2Matter, going forward.

Together we can bridge the skills gap, one student at a time. All it takes is enthusiasm, business experience, and a commitment of your time to help students work productively toward their dreams.

The goal is to encourage the genius in every child. The kids are ready. So let’s give these amazing dreamers the support they need to achieve to their fullest potential. As a talent development champion, I’m in. Why not join me?

(Editor’s Note: To learn more about Angela’s point of view, read her TalentCulture blog post, “Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters. Or listen to her appearance on the #TChat Radio Show: “Choose to Bridge the Skills Gap.”)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Business Case for Mentoring: #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for a full recap of the week’s events and information? See “1 Million+ Ways to Bridge the Skills Gap: #TChat Recap”)

Talent-in-Training: Where’s the Beef?

The future of business and innovation depends on a generation of students who — unfortunately — are learning in an educational environment that is largely irrelevant and uninspiring.

Employers increasingly demand skills that the workforce is not prepared to deliver. There’s a massive disparity between school curricula and business expectations. And communication between educators and business organizations is broken.

How can we turn this situation around to win the hearts, minds and imaginations of tomorrow’s leaders?

According to education adviser, advocate and writer, Angela Maiers, it begins when accomplished, real-world professionals make a commitment to mentor and encourage today’s students. And, as she explained to me in the brief #TChat Sneak Peek video above, it’s never too soon to start.

#TChat Events: Bridging the Skills Gap for Tomorrow

I think Angela makes a compelling case. Do you? Can business mentors fill the gap? What role should schools play in fostering student/business connections? And how can talent-minded digital communities like ours help advance this agenda?

Fortunately, this week at #TChat forums, we’ll have an opportunity to explore these and related issues with Angela and her Choose2Matter partner, Mark Moran.

Join the TalentCulture conversation this week, and let’s explore the possibilities:


Listen to the #TChat Radio show recording

#TChat Radio: Tuesday May 7, 7:30pmET/4:30pmPT

Angela and Mark talk live with hosts, Kevin W. Grossman and Meghan M. Biro about how to address the workforce skills gap now and in the future.

#TChat Twitter: Wednesday, May 8, 7:00pmET/4:00pmPT

Follow our Twitter hashtag and be part of an open, collective conversation, as we explore these issues with Angela and Mark:

Q1:  Why do you think education is falling short in the U.S.? Or do you?

Q2:  What can companies do to improve their expectation/investment disparity?

Q3:  How can mentoring help make the unemployable employable again?

Q4:  How can business leaders help bridge the skills gap and create jobs?

Q5:  What technologies will help enable education-rich organizations?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us anytime, and share your questions, ideas and opinions. Just add “#TChat” to your posts, so others in the community can follow the action.

We’ll see you on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: To learn more about Angela’s point of view, read her TalentCulture blog post, “Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters. Or listen to her December 2012 appearance on #TChat Radio “Back to the Future” Edition — when she discussed key trends in talent acquisition and development.)

Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters

(Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled that Angela Maiers was our guest this week at #TChat forums. She’s a passionate, highly visible education advocate who helps create life-changing learning experiences for today’s youth. We invited her to share some thoughts about her mission — creating better ways to prepare students for success in tomorrow’s world of work. To see an inspiring video interview with Angela, see “The Business Case for Mentoring #TChat Preview.” OR for a full recap of the week, see “1 Million+ Ways to Bridge the Skills Gap.”)

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”  Jack Welch, former CEO, General Electric

The world is changing at an ever-accelerating rate. This has been the case at least since the invention of the personal computer in the 1980s, and became ever more so with the introduction of the commercial Internet in 1993.

In light of this drastic change in the workforce, how much has the US education system changed? Let me assure you of this: if you are under the age of 65 and if you returned to high school today, you’d feel right at home. Does that surprise you?

Educational Standards: A Reality Check

The “world and workforce” standards to which every school in our nation subscribes are not standards that the business community sets. They are standards “our community” — educators — are comfortable with. We can handle critical thinking, good communication skills, impeccable grammar and computation.

But schools do not encourage students to become bold thinkers, dreamers and doers.

Sure, schools have computer labs and some of them even have a computing device for every student. But instruction has changed very little. Indeed, with the never-ending growth of standardized assessment tests, US schools have become narrowly focused on teaching students how to fill-in the proper bubble on a multiple-choice, standardized exam.

Did you see any transferable work or life skills in the above paragraph?

Opportunity Cost: Priceless

Jack Welch may have it exactly right. While some pundits are forecasting a “revolution” in public education, most observers see these words as totally incongruous. Sure, public schools will continue to exist — at least (as educational consultant Peter Pappas writes) until parents find somewhere else to send their kids all day. But school is quickly becoming largely irrelevant to a student’s learning experience.

Every second that a child is “being educated” without insight, experience and real-life support from accomplished adults is a wasted opportunity to maximize their education — and their potential contribution to the world.

Mentoring Can Make All the Difference

Into this breach comes Choose2Matter and the TalentCulture World of Work Community.

Choose2Matter recently launched the Quest2Matter, which challenges every student in three essential ways:

  1. To accept that they matter
  2. To accelerate the message that everyone matters, and
  3. To act on a problem that breaks their heart.

Students have boundless energy and enthusiasm for taking action. What they lack is real-world savvy and the ability to find authoritative and comprehensive information on how to tackle a problem.

Where do they find this insight? Enter the TalentCulture World of Work Community.

Choose2MatterThese future world-changers can and will do incredible things. Members of the TalentCulture community can greatly enhance the students’ contribution by serving as mentors to these amazing young people.

As they work on selecting, curating, and moving forward the top world-changing ideas, TalentCulture members will be guiding them every step of the way.

Merely by knowing that accomplished professionals take their ideas seriously will profoundly impact the seriousness with which students approach their contributions.  For mentors from TalentCulture, this is an unparalleled opportunity to provide real-time, real-life leadership to budding leaders of the world. This will help redefine what the TalentCulture community stands for, and will establish a paradigm of professional and student mentorship for the entire world to follow.

As one talent-minded professional to another, I hope you’ll consider offering your expertise and enthusiasm to help shape the future of tomorrow’s leaders. Looking forward to discussing the Choose2Matter mission in more depth in #TChat forums this week — and I’m excited to collaborate with the TalentCulture community, going forward!

 Image Credit: Pixabay