Nicholas Wyman discusses the important issues of our time around the revival of skilled based careers. Nicholas is the CEO of The Institute For Workplace Skills and Innovation and Author of ‘Job U – How to find wealth and success by developing the skills companies actually need.
| by Nicholas Wyman | 13 August 2015 | Forbes |
Last January, President Barack Obama announced a plan to make two-year community college free for all Americans. This week, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her New College Compact, a $350 billion program to make four-year college programs tuition-free for students at public universities.
Two other prominent Democratic Presidential candidates, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley issued their own plans to provide relief from rising college tuition costs and increasing student loan debt earlier in the year.
That this issue has come to the forefront of national politics is no surprise. College tuition costs have risen by over 1000% since the late 1970s, forcing students and their parents to take out ever more excessive loans. The current level of outstanding student loan debt is over $1.2 trillion, and continues to rise.
Two thirds of students graduate with some level of debt, and the average individual student loan debt is around $30,000. Many students struggle to make their loan payments after they graduate, which means they incur even more debt in late fees and interest. One in ten students simply defaults.
It’s clearly time for national leaders to address this problem. But are the Democratic Presidential candidates looking far enough ahead? To me, leadership is about addressing both today’s crises and tomorrow’s possibilities. Is sending more students to four-year colleges for a generalist degree the best move forward, for either the students or the U.S. economy?
A college degree is not just a social credential. It should lead to enhanced job and salary prospects. This second, and vital component – tying postsecondary education more strongly to the world of work – is what is missing from the current policy discussion on college. Students need clear pathways from education to work, and not just any kind of work, but the well-paying, technical jobs the U.S. economy is increasingly producing.
The fact is that many of today’s jobs do not require a four-year degree. What they do require are technical skills. Again and again, in conversations with employers across the country, I hear the same refrain: “we have jobs but we can’t find workers with the skills to fill them.” At the same time, an alarming percentage of recent college graduates are unemployed or under-employed. They have spent a lot of time and money on a credential that leads nowhere.
But there are some graduates who are finding work – those who come out of community colleges with an associate’s degree in a high-demand field like health services or IT. Community colleges partner with local employers and policymakers to develop courses and provide real-world work experience through internships or apprenticeships. This combination guarantees that graduating students have not only the technical skills needed to find jobs in their own communities, but also employability skills such as self-discipline, reliability, teamwork and communication.
Working with employers, combining academic and career training, and ensuring real-world work experience are not unique ideas. In numerous, strong European economies (Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands), students start thinking about careers in high school, and between 40-70% of them enroll in programs that combine rigorous academic programs with job-related training and experience.
The youth unemployment rate in these countries is much lower than in the U.S. In Switzerland, for example, the youth unemployment rate is an exceedingly low 3%, compared to a U.S. unemployment rate of 18.2 % for 18-19 year olds and 9.9% for 20-24 year olds.
America’s national leaders should take these clear and positive examples from community colleges and thriving western economies into account when shaping their own college reform policies. The best job and salary prospects are for people who have technical training and job experience along with their academic degree. This is true now, and will be even more true in the future.
The Democratic candidates are taking a strong step forward in proposing to make college affordable and accessible to many more Americans. They need to take another step and make it relevant.
| NBC 12 | RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – August 13, 2015 |
If your student is exploring careers, or maybe you want to change careers, there are jobs in demand that you may not have thought of. Local companies are struggling to fill many jobs, because of a shortage of qualified people. Nicholas Wyman has spent his career studying jobs. He’s author of Job U, and is CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation. He’s says local companies struggle to fill jobs, because there aren’t enough people trained with the right skills. ”With technology, some are hiring outside the region,” explained Wyman. “They’re hiring overseas and that really does hurt the local economy.” He says there’s a breakdown in communication between businesses and educators. “Employers aren’t very good at saying, ‘These are the jobs we need.'” And he says too many people think a four-year bachelors degree is the only option. ”There’s plenty of other careers through apprenticeship or community college,” said Wyman. So we asked, what are the hard to fill jobs? ”When I looked at the number one shortage in this region, it’s actually electrician. Believe it or not, employers cannot find people who want to be electricians.” And Wyman says there’s a host of other skilled trade and technology jobs. ”Not only cyber security, but technology, specifically medical technology.
There are huge opportunities in medical technology,” said Wyman.
Nationwide, Forbes magazine recently listed the top 10 hard to fill jobs:
1. Skilled Trade Workers
2. Sales Representatives
7. Accounting and Finance Staff
8. Secretaries, PAs, Administrative Assistants, and Office Support Staff
9. IT Staff
10. Production/Machine Operators
And Wyman says these jobs aren’t just for young people starting their careers. Mid-career workers can train for many of these jobs online or at community colleges, as well.
| by Nicholas Wyman | Published on Forbes |
During a recent forum at South Carolina’s Trident Technical College, candidate Hillary Clinton proposed a tax incentive to encourage employers to take on more apprentices. With unemployment among 18 to 34 year olds at 7.8%, and nearly 15% among young African-American adults, the need for more apprenticeships and other forms of skills training for young people is clear.
Under Clinton’s excellent proposal, employers would receive a $1,500 tax credit for providing on the job (OJT) training opportunities for young Americans.
Politics aside, expanding the number of apprenticeships in the United States makes good economic sense for businesses and organizations of any kind. Recent research shows that for every dollar spent on apprenticeships, employers realize a $1.47 return through increased workforce productivity. That’s about four times the rate of return that American corporations typically earn on invested capital! Apprenticeships are equally beneficial for young workers, of course, providing them entry to the world of employment and setting them on well-paid career paths that many college grads would envy. Accredited apprenticeship programs provide participants with the skills to master an occupation whilst learning under the direct supervision of an expert.
Why More Apprenticeships?
But expanding the number of apprenticeships in our country isn’t just beneficial for individual employees and employers – it’s good for the greater economy at large. First off, it will redress two critical, related problems facing American business and society: a shortage of “middle-skilled” workers in most sectors of the economy, and high youth unemployment. Ask any executive what is holding back business growth, and you’re likely to get this answer: “We can’t find enough people with the skills we need.” At the same time, America’s high schools (and colleges) are turning out too many graduates with no marketable skills and no relevant work experience. Many will end up in low-paying, unskilled jobs. Others will join an underclass of “unemployables” and rely on the public purse for life’s necessities. And left unresolved, it will grow worse as skilled baby boomers march off to retirement.
I call this paradoxical situation “jobs without people, and people without jobs.” Others call it the “skills gap.” Whatever you call it, this labor market mismatch is stifling innovation and economic growth, and undermining America’s competitiveness on a global scale.
What are the middle-skills in short supply? These are the practical, technical and vocational skills that businesses and companies desperately need – but that are not being taught in the vast majority of four-year colleges. I’m talking about skills like how to wire a circuit board, how to weld an electric car motor, how to operate state of the art medical and dental equipment, how to install photoelectric roof panels, how to program and repair industrial robots, and more. It’s a long list. Apprenticeships are the most powerful tool we have for closing the middle-skills gap, combatting youth unemployment, and stemming the declining fortunes of the middle class. Dollar for dollar, no other form of job training packs as much punch. The best part of apprenticeship training is that it is not simply a well-meaning jobs program that purports to increase the talent pool and boost employment; instead, it directly connects young people to real jobs beginning on day one. Apprentices earn while they learn, and they gain experience in doing a real job every working day.
An apprenticeship is also an effective system for bringing young people into the world of working adults. Because apprentices and their adult mentors work together at close range every day, these young people can’t help but observe and learn how adults communicate, plan, work in teams, solve real-world problems, and more. This is much different than the typical classroom experience, where the social distance between student and teacher is often large and rigorously enforced. That kind of intergenerational cooperation imparts a maturity, confidence, and work ethic not always seen among Millennials. And making them a boon to any employer or manager who has ever bemoaned the lack of communication, time-management and problem-solving skills among young people right out of high school or college.
Of all the developed Western economies, America is at the bottom of the heap in terms of apprenticeships per thousand workers. Not coincidentally, it is also falling behind in manufacturing. One thing worth noting is the German companies with lots of apprentices are pulling ahead. America needs many more apprentices in order to close the middle-skills gap and tame high youth unemployment. Incentives like candidate Clinton’s $1,500 tax credit may not solve the problem entirely, but they can help set us on the path towards closing the skills gap and increasing the pool of skilled talent for our companies and employers to draw from.
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By Tara Lynn Wagner
Thursday, July 30
TIME WARNER CABLE NEWS
So you graduated from college but haven’t landed that dream job, or any job for that matter. Starting to panic? Don’t.
“A lot of people really say, ‘Well, I’ve had this map of where I’m going to go,’ and if things don’t fall into place straight away, they start to feel this pressure,” says Nicholas Wyman, author of Job U.
Wyman is also the CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation. He says rather than wait for a specific opening, young graduates should look out for any opportunity to get their foot in the door -even an entry level position, since being in the building could be half the battle.
“You get to network with people within the organization and you really get to take on these, what I describe as, real world workplace skills,” Wyman says. “So you’re actually getting to work with groups of people, you’re getting to see how the dynamics and personalities, and also learn about the culture of the organization, and decide if it’s an organization where you can see yourself mapping out a career.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re in real estate, in law, in finance,” Wyman says. “Employers are looking for people who can communicate and who can work well in group situations. So these interpersonal skills are the skills that I’d personally be brushing up on.”
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