I recently read an interview in the Welland Tribune by an owner of a machine shop in the area. He had just attended a U35 forum who had been discussing the need to do more to retain local youth in the work force and what some of the barriers are that prevent many from either seeking employment or staying in the employment setting they chose. A high unemployment rate and lack of adequate public transit for starters. I think most would concur.
Many teachers, past and present, as well as many business people see the resolution of the following four points as vital if any change is to take place. If retention of youth skill and talent is the goal but is politically motivated then the conversation won’t last long. Its all been said and done before. We have studied things to death with no adequate response. If the goal is to create or shape a short term solution and see how things go, that won’t work either because many of the youth of today are interested in career building not band aids. The serious students who have made career choices want opportunities to set a career path that has some hope attached to it. They don’t want to get going only to find themselves ‘down sized’ because the grant that they were working under had run out of money and wont be re-funded due to budget cuts. If the conversations drift off to ‘how do we be fair to everyone’ and political correctness rears its ugly head many will back away before they even consider what is being proposed. If we encourage the youth who are qualified, energetic and excited about the prospects of a different approach to get on board with something completely new and they are invited to take part in the solution finding we may just keep them around for longer periods of time.
How Do We Do That?
Thinking outside the box will be imperative. We have gotten so used to thinking within the confines of the past. We take promising new ideas or approaches and try to deliver them or develop them using the old ways and protocols. Unfortunately most people resist change. New ideas must be coupled with new and innovative ways of doing things.
- Creating new ways, innovative ways, of delivering information (training) will go a long way to developing a new work ethic. Young graduates today want more money, to work less hours with more perks. So how do we provide that for them but retain the quality and good service that is expected so we can compete? We must remember that future professionals will also experience a higher level of civic involvement, a better quality of life regarding their health, if they enjoy their work they become more innovative and creative, they will enjoy increased prosperity across the board but more important they will strive to produce. Their work ethic is much different from that of our fathers and it will not return to those same standards. Young employees are motivated by money first then perceived respect from their co-workers and then power in the system. They will respond less often to the call of ‘for the glory of the company.’
- We need to consider how students are ‘placed’ into particular streams in schools according to what the school system feels is the right place. Students at least need to have a say in where they go and what they want to study otherwise we lose them right away. They will always do better when they can chose their own course of action. Then we can work with them to determine an appropriate course of study. It we want them to stay in school for longer periods of time we need to create an environment in which they can make that choice more easily.
- There needs to be a different system in place to assess the quality, compatibility and the ability of teachers to assimilate into a new paradigm regarding how we will need to change how we deliver information. They also need to be given the latitude to be innovative and creative in their own classrooms instead of fitting into ONE idea of what a teacher should do and how they do it. Teachers know their classrooms/students better than most. How can we expect our young folks to get energized if the teacher can’t get energized to start with?
- Industry needs to assume a much larger role and responsibility in the training of prospective employees. They need to take a lead in preparing our students and work with the educational system to develop and encourage tomorrows designers, innovators and dreamers. They also need to contribute resources to buffer the cost of preparing their new work force-a work force that will provide them with expertly prepared workers who understand exactly what employers are looking for in an employee. They can help prepare better, more important and exciting hands-on co-op programs.
There are people out there who have begun working on some brilliant ideas around just what this article is highlighting. There will be more news to come about all of this but it will only go as far as parents and other interested parties will let it go. It is time for a new way of preparing our youth for the challenges of the millennia. Soon what we are currently doing won’t meet the mark that other countries are achieving.
Anyway, that’s how I see it.
As always your comments are welcome. Please connect with me through my web site at: jimcloughley.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best, Jim