Monday, October 8, 2012

Skill Sets are Important

I had an interesting talk with the daughter of a highly successful engineer and was interested in her response to a question about whether her father was hiring.  In the last four years, his company went from 350 staff to 80 as the bottom fell out of the housing market and large commercial construction got put on hold.

Now the market is beginning to turn around and he is finding that the new hires, recent college graduates, are missing some skills that he feels are important. They have the engineering abilities, where the schools let them down was in personal skills.  They could not put together a single presentation or communicate (play well) with others.  Their ability to work in a group on a project was non-existent.  They had poor, if any, presentation skills.  And did not have the ability to handle a question in a group meeting session.

Why are we focusing so much on technical skills without providing them the ability to bid for jobs, present in a competitive setting, or use available tools to visualize projects.

Students with high GPAs were among the worst, expecting to hit the ground running out of college, only to stumble and fall when the reality of the workplace smacks them between the eyes.

We need more critical thinking and interpersonal skills taught at the college level, this is really showing the difference between the coddled university environment and the real world.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hello all!
I ran across an interesting post on the BBC about how the Middle East is offering vocational education programs due to a lack of people to fill these types of positions.  As they grow, they are having to import workers for these positions and want home grown experts.
A friend of mine took a job with with Al Jazerra for the same reason, lack of qualified people in the country.  Too many of the children do not want to do the labor intensive jobs and it is causing problems in the countries.  Sound familiar?  Lots of college graduates, few jobs, no one wants to turn the wrench because it is below them.  Not everyone can be white collar, how many blue collar workers do you know that own Mercedes!  Most earn at least as much as a college graduate doing jobs no one else wants to.  Think about it.

Steve Burhoe

Sunday, September 2, 2012

And What About the Underemployed?
There has been a lot of talk about the underemployed in America and how they are not being counted in the unemployment numbers.  How are you supposed to count these people?

I just finished an economic plan for an airport in South Carolina and they had a plethora of skilled and semi-skilled workers in the community because of a large industry base.  With the coming of Boeing nearby, the goal was to grab some of that business for the community making use of the existing facilities.  But how to grab that business?

We formed an alliance with the local college and community college to establish a transportation center on the airport.  We looked at the hiring schedule for Boeing and its subcontractors to find a fit to the local community.  Being off the main transportation route which has multiple locations available, we targeted the subcontractors to become subcontractors to them. 

Logistics today is the key to successful growth. You need that successful infrastructure and the strong support of the community to properly prepare the businesses for the task at hand.  The support of the local education facilities is the key to providing the talent for the particular situation.  This community got behind the initiative and kickstarted the businesses in the area.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

POTUS on Voc Ed

POTUS gets it wrong and right at the same time.  At a vocational school in Iowa, POTUS announced the funding of a billion dollars for post-secondary vocational programs, great news, but he was doing it at a community college, the funding needs to go in at a much lower level.  The magic age for our youth is about 16, this is when they lose interest in academics and need direction, not after graduating from HS.  Lets get it right.

The world on Vocational Education

Been doing a little research on vocational programs around the world.  Here are some interesting links:

Germany supports education
Italian University in English
Polish educational system
Qatar educational system
Singapore education
The Nation looks at vocational education programs in US

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When I was growing up, I had the opportunity to travel the world with my father who was an Army officer.  While in Germany in the 1960s I was exposed to their education system and was interested in how they channel their students post-elementary school into professional or technical schools for their high school educations.  This provided Germany with a steady supply of both professional and technically trained individuals for their growing industries.  Not only were they trained in most technical areas, but they were also bilingual from an early age.  We could learn from these systems instead of turning out unskilled workers from our high schools.  This is the foundation of having an industrialized society, skilled workers to replace those retiring into good paying jobs.
Where do we get most of them now?  The Military!  Something needs to change.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I was appalled when I saw several articles in the Boston and New York papers and an article by Steve Marino of about POTUS' plan to cut ANOTHER 20% from the vocational education budget while increasing the Education budget another 11% to $51 billion, less than 2% of the budget goes to vocational program. In 1975 the education department budget was $17 billion, has education really improved?   And the President wants to cut it another 20% in 2012!  While raising spending on education 11%, how many unskilled people can the economy absorb?  Less than a third of all students actually go to and complete college.  The unskilled rely on their youth and brawn to get jobs, and most of these unskilled jobs have gone away with the economic downturn, primarily in construction.
Not everyone needs or wants a college education, why can't our government and educational system see this?
Plus, there has been an all out attack on for profit schools that do turn out skilled workers.  Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater just because of a few opportunists.  It needs to be back in the public school system.  Screw the liability issues, the labeling of students as non-college material, heck 2/3's of them are already, lets start building skills again so our youth is employable beyond saying: "Would you like fries with that?"
Hello, my name is Steven Burhoe, I hold a bachelors in Animal Science, and a masters and doctorate in Practical Arts & Vocational Technical Education with a certification to teach Vocational Agriculture.  I taught middle and high school agriculture in the mid-70's from 1975 to 1979 in Fauquier County, Virginia.
Then I spent the next 30 years in a variety of private sector jobs training cooperative employees in the Midwest, editing publications for Doane, and consulting with businesses around the world.  It wasn't until my children entered middle school around 2005 that I realized the agricultural programs that I once knew had been emasculated by the "college bound" educational mentality.
No longer were they teaching the hands on approach to running a farm or ranch, which included welding, forge work, wood working, construction, tractor mechanics and hydraulics, great skills all, but they were teaching them "on the computer".  Anyone that has cut through a multi-pass weld project to check penetration or built a toolbox in woodshop, knows that it takes the hands on skills to get it right.
Now the businesses that once took our graduates with a well rounded skill set are crying that there are very few young people willing to do skilled labor.  Its because the schools are college tracking EVERYONE which also means they don't have any technical SKILLS!  Everyone wants to be the boss and no one wants to be the worker (next time you pass a state project see how many people actually have a shovel and how many are telling the ONE worker how to do the job).
Where did we go wrong?  If you looked at the Department of Education in the 1970's their main job was to provide support for vocational training programs, and that was a small amount at 10% of the cost of a local program.  Today they have cut the vocational budget severely and spend billions of dollars on college bound, unemployable young adults.  The college debt crisis is next now that it has exceeded the personal debt and mortgage debt combined in the US.  Last year a million new college students were added to the debt train, when will the light at the end of the tunnel turn in to another train?