Impressive Pre-Apprenticeship Program - Cypress Mandela

Last week I visited Cypress Mandela Training Center, a construction trades pre-apprentiship program in Oakland.  It's target students are young men and women with high school credentials who are looking for a career path.  It takes all sorts of students, including at risk youth and those who are returning from incarceration.  Through a rigorous, no-excuses 16 week program they turn out future trades men and women ready to join PG&E or specific trade union apprentiship programs.

Vocational Education, Case Studies, Unions

German Skills Gap

The President of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts and Small Business (ZDH) spoke to me about the challenges of keeping up with demand for skilled jobs in Germany and his organization's priorites in the Berlin (German) and Belgium (EU) capitals.

Skills Gap, Vocational Education, International Benchmarks

A view of German installation and service dealers in the roller shade and awning industry

Mr. Christopher Silber-Bonz, the CEO (Executive Director) of the Roller Shade and Sun Protection dealer association met with me at the R+T trade show in Stuttgart in late February, 2018.  He helped me to understand how the industry and dealerships work. Here is a summary of what I learned.

Vocational Education, Hiring Skilled Employees, International Benchmarks

National Service and the Skills Gap

A group of Silent Generation (born 1925 - 1945) men made me reflect on the role universal national service played in the past and might play in the future to addess America's Skills Gap.  Even as a thought experiment, imagining the benefits of universal national service may highlight elements which could contribute to beneficial solutions.

Skills Gap, Class in America, Vocational Education

Case Study: the Skills Gap seen from inside a small service company

I left big corporate America in 2004.  I traded it in for the romantic notion of “controlling my own destiny.”  I bought a small specialty construction and service company.  Here’s a bullet point summery of how I faced the skills gap running my company in Northern California.

Skills Gap, Hiring Skilled Employees, Case Studies

Mike Rowe - SkillsUSA Rock Star

Anyone interested in the Skills Gap has heard of Mike Rowe, the creater and host of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs show.  I saw him in live action in June at the SkillsUSA Annual Championships in Louisville, KY.  He is impressive and a great spokesperson and advocate for this issue.  Here are my impressions.

Skills Gap

How Does Skills USA Work?

Skills USA is a one of several nationwide Career and Technical Student Organizations serving high school and community college students.  As someone new to this organization I offer this summary of “how SkillsUSA works.”   Attending the 53rd annual conference in Louisville I was struck by how impressive and professional the event was.  I saw that it represents the tip of a mighty iceberg of history and structure and very hard, for the most part volunteer work by teachers and industry members across the country.


Skills Gap, Vocational Education

Listening Tour to Wisconsin

Getting out of my bubble.  Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is both eye opening and blinding.  The blinding aspect of this area is that it is far removed from most of America -- the people, values, economics, histories. To Get out of this bubble I'm travelling to Wisconsin to listen to people from another part of the US.

People's Stories

What work won't (soon) disappear

What will be the jobs that will withstand the pressures of AI (artificial intelligence), automation and globalization off shoring?  Based on my reading, interviews and experience here is my current thinking formatted in a table.

Changing Work

Skilled Worker or Craftsman...definitions and reflections

Terms which are fundamental to understanding the Skills Gap I am finding a little slippery.  Middle Skill Workers, Skilled Workers, Blue Collar, Craftsmen...are they overlapping or distinct?  Here are my definitions and differentiation  And what about the cardiovascular surgeon, is she a skilled worker?


Origins of the Skills Gap

If the Skills Gap were a simple problem it would have been solved. But it isn’t simple.  There are many contributing factors and no solution can be unilaterally implemented and solve more than a small corner of the problem. Here I attempt to lay out the many (eight by my count) contributing factors to the Skills Gap.  I’m hopeful that by drafting this “map” of the problem it will be possible to visualize and plan how to attack it most effectively.

Skills Gap, Vocational Education

Uniforms: The Power and Pride

One of my first impressions at SkillsUSA Championship event in June was uniforms.  Each event had a prescribed uniform and the contestants were each decked out in identical, clean and pressed outfits.  I observed these giving the competitors a sense of belonging and pride.

Vocational Education

Skills AND Character

It’s not JUST about a skills gap.  Skills without character -- the traits that lead to perseverance, modesty, working toward a larger goal -- will fall short. I present some reflections and resources on Character.

Skills Gap, Hiring Skilled Employees

What's the Skills Gap?

The shortage of qualified technicians is so acute that a year ago, BMW of North America began its own recruiting program, making its pitch to students at postsecondary technical schools and career fairs. While that may be a common practice for multinational corporations, it’s unusual in that the job openings will be at independently owned BMW franchises.

Skills Gap, Hiring Skilled Employees