T+D AUGUST 11 // Intelligence //
Upskilling the American Workforce
By Ann Pace
The White House praises the Manufacturing Skills Certification System as an open door for new job and economic opportunities in the United States.
On June 8, President Obama visited Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Virginia, to announce a major expansion of Skills for America’s Future, an initiative that focuses on training and developing the skills of America’s workforce through the collaborative efforts of the nation’s public sector, businesses, community colleges, and labor force.
“Last year, we launched Skills for America’s Future to bring together companies and community colleges around a simple idea: Making it easier for workers to gain new skills will make America more competitive in the global economy,” President Obama said. “Today we are announcing a number of partnerships that will help us make this a reality, by opening doors to new jobs for workers and helping employers find the trained people they need to compete against companies around the world.”
The Manufacturing Institute (MI), the affiliated not-for-profit of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), is paving the way with its Manufacturing Skills Certification System, a robust training program that will give students at community colleges across the nation the opportunity to earn manufacturing credentials. According to the White House, the manufacturing industry has led the economic recovery of the past two years by adding more than 230,000 jobs since the beginning of 2010.
Through the Skills Certification System, MI is committed to helping provide 500,000 community college students with industry-recognized credentials during the next five years. This ambitious goal is supported by several partners including the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the American Welding Society, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, and ACT—a not-for-profit organization that provides education and workforce development assessment, research, and program management solutions.
ACT supplies the gateway credential to the Skills Certification System with its National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). This certificate is comprised of three of ACT’s WorkKeys assessments: Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information. It tests foundational behavioral and cognitive skills that are necessary for an individual to succeed in the workforce.
According to Martin Scaglione, president of ACT’s Workforce Division, the NCRC is the starting point of the stackable program that MI has created. Scaglione describes the structure of the Skills Certification System as a pyramid, with the NCRC assessment at the base level, followed by training on industrywide skills and, finally, job-specific skills.
Although President Obama’s recent endorsement has fueled momentum for the Skills Certification System, the program has been in existence for several years, led by a handful of early adopter community colleges. This skills-training crusade is timely as the American workforce struggles to fill a middle skills gap, with 2.7 million manufacturing employees age 55 years or older likely to leave the workforce within the next 10 years, according to the White House.
Scaglione is encouraged by the alliance of various business and education sectors in America, noting that at one time organizations were not as engaged in developing the talent supply chain. “There is a movement afoot in our nation of active collaboration across all interested parties in skill building—education, community colleges, businesses, economic development groups, local chambers, trade associations, and so forth,” he says. “We have MI to thank for leading this movement.”
T+D AUGUST 11 // global leadership//
Top Global Leadership Programs Tied to Business Results
By Phaedra Brotherton
Leadership programs in high-performing companies focus on developing competencies needed to lead in complex, multicultural environments that are tied to corporate goals.
Compared to their lower-performing peers, high-performing companies have a global leadership initiative, get the C-suite involved in designing the program, and have specific metrics in line with business results and corporate values, according to a new American Management Association, Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), and Training magazine study on global leadership development practices.
Senior managers are expected more than ever to improve a company’s global performance. “This means that up-and-coming leaders require a broader skill set than the one in the past. Top leaders need to think and act globally,” says Sandi Edwards, senior vice president for AMA Enterprise.
The study of more than 1,700 organizations in more than 20 industries on six continents examined global leadership programs as well as their link to business performance. Of the companies surveyed, 538 (30.6 percent) reported that they had a global leadership program in place. More than half (58 percent) of the high-performing companies in the study had some form of global leadership program in place, compared to 34 percent of low-performing organizations.
This is AMA and i4cp’s second year conducting the study. Last year’s study found that senior executive involvement consisted of endorsing and promoting the programs and was critical to program success, says Edwards. What proved crucial this year was senior management’s upfront involvement in designing the program to include specific competencies tied to business drivers that participants needed to have after completing the program.
“The more those involved in leadership programs really understood that their learning needed to be applied to producing results for the company, the more effective the learning initiatives,” Edwards says.
In addition, there was a heavy emphasis on knowledge transfer. “One of the things that came out of the study was that companies need to do pre- and post-assessments to measure knowledge transfer,” says Edwards.
Leadership development is a popular topic for many organizations, because customers can be from all over the world, says Edwards. The most widely taught competencies include critical thinking and problem solving, change management, and leading cross-
cultural teams. Among other findings:
- Managing change, exhibiting agility, and developing global strategies have been difficult to master.
- High-performing companies offer global leadership development to a broader segment of their workforce.
- Cultural components are expected to dominate the new competencies required for global leaders during the next 10 years.
The next study will focus on how effective the programs are in transferring this knowledge. Edwards notes that while high-performing companies are leading the way, they have a long way to go to master certain critical competencies related to cultural issues.
T+D AUGUST 11 // Learning 3-d//
The Virtual Reality
By Marissa Garff
Virtual teaming is on the rise, with 40 percent of respondents to a recent survey reporting that 40 percent or more of their employees work in virtual teams.
While email is the main method of business communication today, virtual work environments are becoming more of a reality. In a recent survey of senior leaders and hiring managers in America’s large and Fortune 500 companies commissioned by Brandman University, researchers at Forrester Consulting explored the increasing trend of virtual collaboration. In conjunction with the study, Brandman released a whitepaper, “Virtual Work Environments in the Post-Recession Era,” as well as a list of tips for both employees and managers to navigate a virtual work environment.
Not surprisingly, a main concern in a virtual work environment is the lack of trust-building opportunities that come from face-to-face communication, according to the report. A lack of personal contact can lead to concerns about worker accountability, creativity, innovation, productivity, and the list goes on. Without the informal communication that usually occurs in an office setting, managers in a virtual work environment have to find other ways to establish rapport with employees.
In “Tips for Navigating a Virtual Work Environment,” Susan Gerke, adjunct professor at Brandman University and author of The Quick Guide to Interaction Styles and Working Remotely, suggests that employees communicate with colleagues when possible via tools that allow them to hear their voices or see their faces because it is difficult to build trust with people strictly through email communication. She also recommends that managers “plan face-to-face communication with distributed employees when possible, especially at the start of a relationship or project.”
Many of Gerke’s points echo findings from the study. For example, the report cites “several skill sets as integral for employee success in a virtual working environment, including solid communication skills, ability to self-pace and work independently, [and] accountability.”
Interestingly, the report reveals conflicting opinions about the use of virtual teaming. While more than half of those surveyed say that they expect virtual teaming to increase, those same respondents say that they do not “view virtual teaming as an important strategy to enable growth opportunities, provide employee flexibility and job satisfaction, or promote an environmentally friendly business.”
The study identifies cost containment and recruitment as the two most common motivations for implementation of a virtual work environment, with other motivations likely to emerge as technology advances. Brandman predicts that “companies that approach the virtual workforce as a progressive and competitive strategy, and can fully embrace and leverage the benefits of virtual teaming, will be the ones that survive and thrive in the coming decades.”
T+D AUGUST 11 // FAST FACT //
Many Workers Consider Themselves Overqualified, But Still Want More Training
In its latest Work Watch survey, global staffing firm Randstad found that 97 percent of employees surveyed report being qualified or over qualified for their current job, and 62 percent of them are interested in learning more skills.
The online survey included a national sample of 1,006 adults aged 18 and older who are currently employed full or part-time. Most of those interested in more development wanted to earn a degree or learn about a trade or industry (41 percent), but learning about soft skills, such as emotional, social intelligence, and leadership skills, was only slightly behind at 30 percent. Eight percent of workers reported wanting to learn both skill sets.
Overall, younger workers were most enthusiastic about learning. Seventy-four percent of employees between the ages of 18 and 34 were more likely to want additional training, compared to 56 percent of workers older than 35. Half of employees from Generation Y and younger wanted more hard skills training, and 40 percent wanted more soft skills.
Employees are interested and willing to attend corporate training programs. More than half said they would attend a company program for new marketable skills; 20 percent would even use their own funds or take out loans to pay for additional education. Again, younger workers showed more of a willingness to do that, with 60 percent saying they’d attend a company program, and 33 percent saying they’d pay out of pocket for courses. Only 13 percent of older employees were willing to pay for continued education.
The survey also found that half of all employees believe skills learned in the workplace were more beneficial to their careers than was their formal education.
“The results suggest that once jobs start opening up, young motivated workers will begin seeking more advanced, challenging positions where they can grow,” says Jim Link, managing director of human resources for Randstad.
T+D AUGUST 11 // global workforce //
Work Relocation Trends Shifting
By Ann Pace
The global workforce is setting its sights on new job destinations as a result of the recession.
The economic downturn has had a significant impact on the global workforce’s willingness to relocate according to a recent ManPowerGroup study, the “Migration for Work Survey.” The report explores more than 14,000 employed individuals’ views about relocating for work opportunities. It captures the responses of workers from nine countries and serves as a follow up to pre-recession research conducted in 2008.
According to Jeff Joerres, Man-powerGroup chairman and CEO, the downturn has accelerated many trends that would have happened eventually, especially the globalization of the labor market. He explains that the recession squeezed these world events together in a shorter timeframe, resulting in a balancing out of where jobs exist.
More than one in four people (27 percent) report that they are more willing to relocate for work since the global recession. Nineteen percent of respondents say they are less willing, and 54 percent say their willingness has not changed.
Despite this data from the overall survey sample, residents of the United Kingdom and United States report a declining interest in relocating for work since 2008, with 64 percent of U.K. respondents and 61 percent of U.S. respondents saying they would consider relocating for a job, compared to 80 and 83 percent, respectively, in 2008.
“This shows just how much the downturn has affected people’s psyches,” says Joerres. “People are viewing their entire lives and opportunities differently. A recession typically does a jolt to the system, but because this one has lasted so long, it has had a significant impact on people’s behaviors and mindsets.”
More people are thinking about emerging markets such as India and China, but many preconceived ideas about living and working in these developing countries still exist, notes Joerres. Only 3 percent of respondents voice interest in relocating to the Asia-Pacific region, with none interested in Africa. One percent of respondents say they are willing to relocate to the Middle East, compared to four percent in 2008.
Although the United States remains the top destination for work relocation, it has lost some of its luster since 2008, and the United Kingdom has slipped from its number two spot in 2008 to number four in 2010. While opportunities for skilled labor in these countries were abundant five years ago, the balance is shifting to emerging economies that are creating jobs at a rapid pace.
One way for developed nations to combat this shift is by dealing with the skills shortage. “The demand [for talent] is still slow enough that companies can be picky and look for specific skills,” says Joerres. “As demand increases, the challenge will be for companies to decide what a teachable skills gap is and what it is not. Training and development professionals still need to be very prescriptive—to come up with ideas and solutions to train iteratively, remain extremely relevant to the needs of the business, and work with HR to ensure people are being hired who have only the deficiencies that can be filled with training and development.”
T+D AUGUST 11 // INFOGRAPH //
For a Flexible Work Schedule, Try Finland
A 2010 Grant Thornton global survey of more than 7,700 businesses in 39 countries found Finland, Sweden, and Australia as the countries with the highest percentage of companies offering flexible work arrangements, while Japan, Greece, and Armenia ranked lowest.
Source: Grant Thornton International