Monday, 31 March 2014

Where Have My FE Colleagues Gone? Lost Boys... Or Missing Opportunities?

I am the eternal optimist. As such when others see problems I can, on occasion, wonder if there might be some new and interesting opportunities.

Now that I have finished my latest research I have been sending some updates to my FE contacts recently regarding my plans, and the number of emails that have been returned "undeliverable" has been significant.

When I checked these contacts on LinkedIn, I then get confirmation that they have moved out of FE and into other sectors. All these bounce backs in your inbox provides an interesting visual demonstration of how FE has lost 30% of their staff in some departments recently... and makes you wonder about the impact this has had at the college.

I really do detest this from the student and staff perspective - hard working educators forced to leave due to budget cuts and all this expertise leaving the classroom. But is there an opportunity here?
Connecting business with FE
If this 35% drop in academic staff is consistent with other departments who have left FE, this would mean that some 60,000 are now working in different industries and sectors. I wonder to what extent FE are using former colleagues to establish links with industry? 

One of the best ideas that I have seen regarding the successful implementation of a strategy is for teams to answer "yes" to these three critical questions;

1) Do we have enough assets for the outcomes?
If Yes then you can go on to ask "What should we do to accomplish the outcomes, if no;
2) What assets do we have that we haven't identified yet?
3) Will behaviors accomplish outcomes

With a 30% drop in staff I can imagine that the answer to "do we have enough assets for the outcomes" may well be "no," but surely a credible and viable answer to question 2 is "How about we see what our former colleagues and their new employer can do to help achieve this outcome?"  

The 5-minute Favour & Reciprocity Rings
Wharton University Professor of Management, Adam Grant, discusses the secret of Adam Rifkin's success as one of the most connected networker, who is trying to change the way that people network and is an advocate of the 5 minute favour.

Reciprocity rings is one way to instigate this kind of collaboration. This is where a group is gathered for the purpose of members asking for something important for them in their personal or professional lives.  A request is put out to the group and participants make connections, offer introductions, contacts or more tangible help with achieving member’s goals

This idea was developed by University of Michigan psychologist's Wayne and Cheryl Baker and their website Humax has all the tools you will need to develop the method.  Some of the business benefits listed on their site include:

  • Real business benefits are achieved
  • The monetary values of benefits achieved typically exceeds $150,000
  • The time saved by participants typically exceeds 1,600 hours
  • The Reciprocity Ring builds community, strengthening the network of relationships among participants
  • The Reciprocity Ring is transformative — and informative. Not only will you learn solutions to your issues, but you’ll also learn more about your colleagues and co-workers.

Private Vs Public Solutions
In February Michael Gove said that State Schools should be more like Private Schools. I agree that State Schools can learn a lot from private schools, but also feel that some comparisons are more than a little ridiculous.

As I highlight in my Culture in Education post, it takes a village to raise a child and this is something that private education excels at... they make use of "The Old Boys Network" to find opportunities for their children. This can be evidenced in Miles Corak's "The Great Gatsby Curve" and how 75% of children with wealthy parents have worked for the same employer as their parents did (this raises to 90% of the super-rich).    
Unfortunately people from deprived areas have parent who don't work, some even an entire network of friends and family who don't have jobs?! 

Parents in private education tend to make any requests regarding their children's career public with their networks, could FE fulfil the same role for their students? Could this help some of the lost boys of the council estates, in the same way that it helps their privileged counterparts in the private estates?  
FE Network
If 30% of FE staff have left the sector in the last few years leaving existing staff with a greater workload due to budget cuts etc, and as reciprocity rings have demonstrated that they can save participants time, I'm sure that they could have an impact on FE whether to; 

  • Helping students to get work experience or employment
  • Develop courses and/or apprenticeship programmes that fit their employers' needs 
  • Encourage employers to look at FE for training and conference needs
Surely there is an opportunity here to make this community of ex-colleagues and former FE staff work for existing college staff and their students? 

If you have worked in FE and/or are interested in exploring the concept of reciprocity rings please feel free to take a moment to fill out the details on the following link - Left FE: What Next?

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