Confronting the Skills Crisis And Workforce
Challenges of the New World Economy

Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 1

Please submit articles and news items to Barbara Bolin for inclusion in future newsletters and on the CRCC web site.

In this issue:

  • Conference News
  • Workforce Development News
  • CRC Consortium Update
  • Soft Skills Assessments
  • Book Reviews
  • Free On-line Resources

CONFERENCES

  • The 2007 Midwest WorkKeys™ Conference in Springfield was a GREAT success! Congratulations to our colleagues in Missouri who worked hard to plan and host what has become a significant event. Attendance was at 130, and these folks came from 13 states stretching from Massachusetts to Oregon. Presentations from the conference are posted at

http://www.ded.mo.gov/crc/conference.html

  • At the conclusion of the conference, Susan Kuzmic announced that the next Midwest WorkKeys™ conference will be hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce in partnership with the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce. The only details available so far are that the conference will be at the end of October 2008 in Oklahoma City. It is very exciting to see these sorts of partnerships developing and to see other states volunteering to host.
  • Is it time for a northwest state to think about hosting an event?
  • ACT™ hosted a statewide WorkKeys Conference in Michigan November 5-6th.
  • The Southeastern WorkKeys conference is scheduled for January 23-25 in Chattanooga, TN. The event will be held at the Marriott at the Convention Center. This is always a great conference too so plan to join us and learn the latest on WorkKeys and the CRC.
  • The ACTE Convention will be held at the Las Vegas Hilton, December 13-16, 2007.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT NEWS

  • It seems that there are major changes for IT workers in the US market .
    The IT market is hot once again but the in-demand skills keep shifting.

    According to Information Week (October 22, 2007), two reports demonstrate that this shift is away from certification of technical skills. Research from Foote Partners shows that, in the years after the dot-com bust, employers “put more emphasis on certified tech skills as they looked to rein in excesses of the boom and better justify tech salaries”. This latest report asserts however that employers are now paying higher premiums for noncertified technical skills in areas such as enterprise applications, e-commerce, and process management. Foote Partners conducts in-depth quarterly surveys of employers.

    Over the last two years, many companies have started looking to IT for assistance in the development of new products, to boost profit and sales, and to improve customer service and relationships. This makes sense because IT is buried in every facet of an organization and in every line of business.

    Non-certified tech skills are averaging 8.08% above base pay, while certified skills average a premium of 7.97%. While these numbers look close, in real money terms, the difference is huge. This is bound to be frustrating for tech professionals who have invested a great deal in getting certifications in order to get or guarantee their employment.

    This news must be considered alongside a second report from the BLS that shows a drop in the unemployment rate from 2.2% in 2006 to 2% in the tech industry. In 2003, the rate was 5.6%. The biggest job growth categories are: software engineers, computer scientists, systems analysts, and IS managers. Two categories shrank: programmers by 5%, and support specialists fell 4%.

  • Two other reports that should be considered alongside one another . . .

    The BLS recently released details of the number of older Americans who are still working after the age of 55. The percentage (in 2006) has now reached 38% and this represents an increase of 8% over the last 20 years. The biggest increase showed in the 65-69 age group which now stands at 52.5%, an increase of about 10% since 1986.

    Then there's news of an age-discrimination suit brought by a 52 year old executive against the Altria Group (previously known as Philip Morris Companies). The suit alleges that (among other things) senior management referrred to older workers as "blockers"!!

    Two things seem significant here. Since when has 52 been considered to be old, and what are companies like Altria going to do when they have to rely heavily on these "blockers" in the near future when multiple generations are needed to keep their workforce at needed levels? Clearly, this is (or should be!) a time of enlightenment for many companies in the US.

  • Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is India’s largest IT services provider. You can learn more about this company in The Elephant and the Dragon by Robyn Shephard (see review later in this newsletter). In the latest report from TCS, it is reported that application development and maintenance now make up less than half its revenue. This is because TCS has been moving up the value chain, and now provides consulting and IT infrastructure services that involve higher degrees of experience, trust, and communication (Information Week, October 22, 2007).
  • Rob Preston highlights a new cultural gap that is widening in the IT industry. In Beyond Talent Shortage Lies a Cultural Divide (Information Week, October 22, 2007), Rob maintains that employers and employees in the profession have widely disparate views of the future of the industry.
    Executives maintain that there is a tech talent shortage in the US, and that this will worsen as Baby Boomers retire. Disgruntled employees produce anecdotal evidence of their own that points to an oversupply of tech labor and dwindling job prospects. These employees claim that they have been “commoditized” by the industry, and that hiring managers are often blinded by appearance and stereotypes.
    Clearly, there is a need for a conversation between the two sides

NEWS FROM THE CRC CONSORTIUM

  • I am happy to report that North Dakota is pressing ahead with plans for the CRC. ND is our 45th. state. At the moment they are in the third ("interested") column of the matrix but we are delighted that their enthusiasm is high.
  • It is exciting to witness the extraordinary growth in the "Numbers Issued" matrix (see below). These numbers are kept up to date on the CRC web site but they are only as good as the data we receive. Please be sure to pass your state's numbers on to Barbara Bolin on a monthly basis.
  • I think that there is a "competition" brewing between a few of the states in terms of who can issue the most CRCs and who is at the top of the list! Healthy competition is a good thing and, more importantly, we should always remember the significant number of people we are helping. The NOCC's best estimate of CRCs issued is in excess of 105,000!
  • Oklahoma is moving forward with its CRC+ . More news will be available in the next newsletter.

    In case you haven't visited the CRCC web site recently, here is what the Consortium currently looks like.

CRC DEPLOYED CRC IN PROGRESS INTERESTED IN CRC
Kentucky Kansas Idaho
Indiana Pennsylvania DC
Virginia Colorado Utah
Louisiana Iowa Nebraska
Missouri West Virginia California
North Carolina Wyoming Delaware
Oklahoma Arkansas Maryland
Alabama Nevada Rhode Island
Tennessee Washington Illinois
New Mexico Ohio New Jersey
Florida Arizona Montana
Georgia Alaska Minnesota
Mississippi Massachusetts North Dakota
Michigan Texas  
South Carolina Oregon  
  Vermont  
  New York  
     
15 states
17 states
13 states
     

    Click here to see the matrix of CRCs issued. This number is greatly under-reported because of lack of information from the states. Even with that, the numbers are still veryimpressive!

  • We offer our congratulations to Rod Nunn of Missouri as he moves into a new position. Governor Matt Blunt has appointed Rod as Director of Education and Workforce Innovation, effective October 15, 2007. Governor Blunt charged Rod with leading Missouri’s P-20 Council to align the entire education and workforce continuum with the state’s business and industry needs for skilled workers who are globally competitive. Governor Blunt's charge to Rod meshes well with some of the work undertaken over the past few years in Rod's work in the public workforce system. During Rod’s time as Director of the Division of Workforce Development, he led Missouri’s system in a transformation that improved its relevance and value in today’s economy. Under Rod's leadership, Missouri became one of the leading states in the CRC Consortium, and under his leadership, we look forward to other great innovations in Missouri in the future.

SOFT SKILLS ASSESSMENTS

Employers are still anxious about the poor quality of potential and incumbent employees in terms of their "soft skills", and this issue will only increase as the Millenial generation moves into the workplace. Young people demonstrate a lack of training and competence in this area, and this causes friction and aggravation as the generations mix in many workplaces. For customers too, it is proving to be a problem. News on two possible assessment tools and associated training comes from ACT and Alchemy.

  • To quote from an article by Rod Nunn in the May 2007 WORKFORCE WEEKLY newsletter from the Missouri Dept. of Economic Development, the Alchemy SISTEM™ is a virtual training medium that "provides competency-based training for workforce system staff and customers in a consistent and uniform manner." In 15-20 minute modules, an on-screen trainer delivers content and then asks questions to assess the understanding of the participants. In a fun departure from the traditional, trainees use remote control devices with color-coded buttons to log their answers interactively. Remedial learning is imbedded in each module if it is determined that trainees do not understand the core competencies of the training.

Three Tiers of training focus on skills from general foundational skills to occupationally specific competencies. Tier 1 trains in Personal Effectiveness Competencies; Tier 2 deals with Academic Competencies and Tier 3 with Workplace Competencies, those skills that allow individuals to function adequately in an organizational setting.

While Alchemy is being used successfully in several career centers and in other locations in MO and in other states, it is important to understand that this is NOT a certification process but rather an engaging way of exposing and training individuals in necessary skills.

For more information, please visit www.SISTEMTraining.com and/or contact Ron Jones (RonJ@Review.com).

  • WorkKeys™ has added three new personal skills assessments:Talent, Fit, and Performance, to measure personality factors in terms of job behavior, performance, and productivity. As you might imagine, Talent measures key personal traits linked to job success; Fit measures work-related interests and values aligned to job fit; Performance measures work attitudes and the potential for unsafe behavior on the job. For more information on these new assessments, visit www.act.org

BOOK REVIEWS

If you are interested in the global economies, and if you have already read The World Is Flat by Thomas Freidman, I recommend the following two books.

  • The Emerging Markets Century: How a New Breed of World-Class Companies is Taking Over the World by Antoine van Agtmael is a natural successor to Friedman's best seller. It is not as readable but it contains a wealth of information pertinent to our certification efforts. Agtmael lays to rest several myths about India and China and the poor outlook for US companies that we hear a lot about in the media. He is able to explain the true global nature of economies, and how the emerging markets--many of which you may be new to you--will affect our future.
  • In The Elephant and The Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us, Robyn Meredith compares these two economic giants and their roles on the world stage. She points out where the strengths and weaknesses are in both economies, and her words should bring some comfort to the employers you deal with every day. Her information dispels many myths and clarifies anecdotal sound bites that are used in the media, and that are causing concern about the future of the US economy. Ms. Meredith sheds light on some little-known truths about these two emerging economies and the positive opportunities that are emerging for US businesses.

Then, if you are interested in learning more about the true China, I recommend China Road by Rob Gifford, a former NPR reporter who lived in China for many years. Prior to leaving his China posting with NPR and returning to London, Rob made a personal pilgrimage across the country, following the old Silk Road. His insightful narrative of that journey and his many adventures reveal truths about the status of urban and rural Chinese and the effects of the booming economy on their lives. The news is not all good, and there are signs of significant problems on the Chinese horizon.

FREE ON-LINE RESOURCE

Education Week has announced a new FREE resource for educators. Please pass this information on to your colleagues in the education sector. It will also be useful to WIB members, economic developers and workforce development professionals as they seek to learn more about best practices in education in the creation of a seamless career development system.

The publisher of Education Week has launched an exclusive new resource guide on teacher professional development to help you maintain your commitment to excellence in education. The inaugural issue of the Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook, focusing on the expanding role of teacher collaborative work, is available online now (http://www.teachermagazine.org/tm/toc/2007/10/25/index.html).

We hope you find this FREE resource to be a valuable tool in guiding staff development and your own professional growth. The exclusive, interactive directory is fully searchable, with links to more than 200 products, services, or organizations you may be interested in. You will want to save this site as a favorite so you can refer to it frequently. Some of the most popular categories of professional development being searched are English/Reading, Mathematics, Special Education and Assessment/Testing – and many more are available! Check the category you are interested in now.

You will find this totally free guide to ideas and resources to be helpful in planning your approach to professional development. There are many practical features you won't want to miss, including:

Best practices and advice on creating and maintaining professional learning teams
Research on what works in professional development
Data snapshots of current practices and state requirements in teacher professional development
If you like what you see online, you may also be interested in receiving future issues of Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook in print. See if you qualify for a FREE subscription by clicking here.

Or you can order this issue in print for $29, to keep as a desk reference. You can place your order online, or call 1-800-788-5692.

Enjoy all that this valuable, free online resource has to offer – articles, research and complete directory – and forward this e-mail to a colleague who may be able to use it.

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

 

This newsletter is intended only for financial supporters of the NOCC. Forwarding it to unauthorized recipients is a violation of intent.

The NOCC™ is a non-profit, publicly-supported organization.

Contact Barbara Bolin, Ph.D.
President, NOCC

1133 May Street, Lansing, MI 48906
804-310-2552
bolinb@earthlink.net

© NOCC, November 2007