Monday, May 24, 2021

Predicted skills shortage by 2030

If you've read many of my blog articles you've seen this graphic, or a version of it.  It shows a goal of helping kids born or living in poverty areas move through school and into adult lives, with skills and networks that enable them to have meaningful, decent-paying jobs, that enable them to raise their own kids free from the grip of poverty.

In this article I want to focus on skills. And habits.

Below is a Tweet that I commented on this week.  I was listening to Patrick T. Harker of The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, on a  @washingtonpost live event. He was talking about an impending skills shortage in workforce.  

Earlier that day I had received an email from Dr. Ed Gordon, of Imperial Corp. Consulting, with his latest White Paper, talking about the expected skills shortage. So I shared Ed's article in the Tweet, I hope readers will be interested enough to take a look at the video and Ed's White Paper.

Disclosure: I've known Ed since the early 2000s. For a few years he served on the Advisory Council of the Tutor/Mentor Connection. So he's been writing about this for more than 20 years.  

So, what does it take to help kids develop skills and learning habits that would enable them to succeed in school (and meet business needs for skilled workers)?   What motivates some kids to develop learning habits, while others seem indifferent?  Educators have been struggling with this for decades.

Which comes first? Habits. Or skills?  

Earlier this week my #clmooc network of educators shared a TED talk delivered by Laura Ritchie with an invitation to view her presentation and comment on it, using Vialogues.   Laura's message of skill development was one of self-agency, "Yes, I can." was the message.

As I watched her TED talk, I thought back to the Illinois Wesleyan Commencement address which I watched on May 2.  Geisha Williams, the first Latina CEO of a Fortune 200 was the speaker and her message was "Why not Me?"  

I posted this Tweet with links to both.
This is the challenge.  All kids need to have the "Yes, I can" and "Why not me?" internal engines driving their learning.  In the tutor/mentor programs  I led from 1975-2011, the goal was to stimulate this thinking through the volunteer tutors and mentors we matched with kids and through the activities the program offered.  At best, this was "hit and miss" with no "silver bullet" success that reached every participant.

I created this concept map several years ago to visualize the many different systemic barriers that kids in poverty have to overcome as they move through school and into adult lives.  Volunteers and organized non-school programs are one resource that can help kids and families overcome these challenges, and my mission for the past 28 years has been to try to help such programs grow in more places.


However, the need to instill the "Yes, I can" and "Why not me?" spark in every child, reaches beyond poverty.   Instilling in kids the habits, motivations, of learning is the challenge. Some kids seem to have this naturally, or it has been modeled for them by parents, siblings, neighborhoods, since birth.  

What can we learn from others?  The web library I've been building since the early 1990s is an attempt to aggregate information that anyone can use to try to understand the challenges facing youth, parents and educators and to learn how some people are addressing those challenges.  If an idea is working in one place, why not borrow it and apply it to many places?

This concept map shows the four main sections of my library. Click on small boxes  under each node to dig deeper. 


I've been trying to make it easier for people to navigate my library for more than 20 years.  I wrote this article last November, talking about learning libraries.  I included the World Economic Forum (WEF) library as an example of what's possible. Below is a section that focuses on "Education and Skills".


When we created the first Tutor/Mentor Connection website in the late 1990s we  used the hub/spoke design on the home page to help people navigate to different sections of the library.  In the year's since I've seen other websites with this design feature, but have never been able to build that into my own library.

Thus, I keep pointing to what others are doing, and the information they host.  These are just a few of the many, many libraries of information available to help people find better ways to help children become life-long learners, constantly supported by the "Yes, I can" and "Why not me?" internal motivations.

Finding time to dig into this information, make sense of it, then apply it in one or many places is a huge challenge.  The graphic below shows a strategy I've recommended for many years.


The information available to everyone is represented by the circle at the right side of the graphic. Below the big circle are smaller circles, representing places where small groups of people can discuss the information in the library.  To the left of the big circle are two graphics, representing what each person can do to encourage others to look at the information and join the discussion.

If you share this article in your social media you're taking the "YOU" role.  If you start a discussion of this article in your faith group, workplace, fraternity, and/or family network, you're taking a deeper role.

If you discover other resources, such as more useful platforms/libraries, and you share them with me so I can add them to the Tutor/Mentor library, you're taking an even greater role.


If you do these steps regularly, perhaps we can get closer to answers that are used in thousands of places.  That's the goal.


I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIN. I look forward to connecting with you.  




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