Thursday, 24 September 2015

Developing the Young Workforce & Circle the Schools

The Developing Young Workforce report was launched at the Scottish Learning Festival this week. This post looks at what Scotland could learn from California's "Circle the Schools" employer/education collaboration and the areas growing, vibrant and extremely experienced Community Managers.

Employer Learning and Development
I'll get the contentious aspect of this post out of the way first...While policy makers are patting themselves on the back regarding their shiny new document, you have to ask... how come one of "Can Do Scotland's" biggest startup success stories is hiring a Learning and Development Consultant for their staff? 

  • Is it because they don't know about the young workforce initiative
  • Or is it because, like most new ideas, it needs to be sold to the various stakeholders? 
  • Maybe the programme needs a good community manager to get the necessary buy in? 
  • Are there more fundamental issues that no-one in education wants to discuss?
Surely we need to ask why a company like this is taking learning and development in-house. 

The answer of course may be an uncomfortable one for educators, but this example is by no means isolated.Workplaces seem to be taking education and training in-house at a rapid rate today. Some are even building their own universities (See All Hail the Launch of the Corporate University)

Surely this is a worry for educators... Especially given the launch of this shiny new report and 7 year plan.
LearnUp from Startups
The reason for developing my Business Development Ideas for FE report in 2011 was to see if the ideas might get more employers engaging with FE, while generating additional revenue for the sector.

The basis for these ideas were, as always, looking more to the Western US seaboard rather than to Westminster. I looked for examples of startups who were thriving in the recession.

I also looked at what Fredrick Terman did with Stanford during The Great Depression when his students were struggling to get work. It may be 4 years on but my views have not changed, I look to California for solutions way before I'd consider anything the political classes came up with.

As I'm reading this new document, I'm thinking "There are a handful of Silicon Valley startups who could nail this agenda!" For example, earlier in the week I read about the amazing results of LearnUp, a start up that's closing the gap for entry level job seekers;
"The company says it's able to triple the ability of a job applicant to get hired and that employer partners see 30% less turnover along with more efficiencies in their hiring process and speed. Old Navy is using the platform to train 200,000 workers"
Now, entry level jobs may not be ideal or what the report is looking to achieve for our young people but, given the extent of the youth unemployment... surely asking LearnUp to come to Scotland might not be a bad move.

#Cmgr a Growth Area... But Not in Scotland
I continue reading this latest big idea in education, but get distracted by an email notification, the subject line is more exciting and appealing to me "The 41 Most Exciting Jobs We've Seen in the Community Profession" so I check it out. The email details how Community Management is; 
"Growing in a serious and measurable way. This time last year, we were only hosting 10 job postings on CMX Hub. That number has now quadrupled"
If you check the 41 #Cmgr jobs you'll see that, not only is the profession growing, but the opportunities are with some seriously exciting companies! Check this Twitter list to see some of the other companies who employ Community Managers: #Cmgr Twitter List

However, a lot of these jobs are in the US, almost half of the 41 exciting community jobs in the post above are based in California (only one is UK based). How many jobs or training courses are there in this field in Scotland? Few jobs and no training courses.
Given all the buzz on social media with the independence referendum, it's not even as if these policy makers who created this young workforce report don't know the kind of results that good community management can deliver.
Just to make sure, I wrote to MP/MSPs and other GE candidates earlier in the week to detail some ideas regarding how the practices of Community Managers could help with constituent enquiries and during election time.
One Scotland... One City: Circle the Schools
I've written a number of times about San Francisco's Circle the schools project and wonder if anyone involved with the Developing the Young Workforce program looked at this project where;

"Partner employees participate in volunteer activities designed to advance student skill in literacy at the elementary school level, STEM in middle schools, and college and career readiness in high schools. The goal is to 'circle' all 117 public schools and use this initiative to support the School District's Vision 2025"
Circle the Schools Partner Map
Also during the Salesforce's Dreamforce conference they announced they hit 1 million volunteer hours and donated 1 million books to schools and libraries. 

Community Culture?
I wonder to myself to what extent the spin doctors of the Blair era have influenced this document as any mention of "the regionalisation of colleges" is in a positive light.

I don't know enough to comment whether this regionalisation is a positive development or not... but what I do know is that culture matters, a lot! And the merger process has done nothing to help the culture within these institutions.
The sentiment on the ground may well be "I've just lost lots of my colleagues, I am being asked to do more with less and now I'm being expected to get behind this latest 7 year plan... Which will probably just get replaced after the 2016 election"

Is there evidence to back this feeling up? When the Education Minister is in a room full of education stakeholders and invites questions from the audience and only 3 hands go up, you've got to wonder... has trust been broken?

This makes me think of CMX for a number of reasons. First of all in a recent post CMX talked about How to Scale Trust and Relationships, as it includes a section on rebuilding trust.
the CMX Summit is coming up and AirBnB's Head of Community, Jenna Meister, will be speaking at the event. Here's how important their CEO Brian Chesky and the companies investors view culture: Don't Mess Up the Culture.

Staying with a hospitality and tourism theme, there are a lot of FE courses on the subject and it's important to Scotland's economy, £12 Billion according to the governments statistics. In February 2014 (ie the height of FE merger disruption) #Cmgrhangout had a session on Travel and Hospitality Communities.

I emailed my FE contacts so they knew about the session (Which was really informative!). I wonder how many people watched this? If it wasn't many I wonder if this was due to the culture being disrupted?

The topic for #Cmgrhangout this week is on Building and Scaling Trust... there's those Community Managers again.

Even within the report, I note the number of references to and/or the need for community with implementing the recommendations from the report:
San Frans' Online Community
Tribe has almost 2,000 members 
"Throughout this plan it is clear that success relies on meaningful engagement with Scotland's education and employment communities"
"How to achieve better connectivity and co-operation between education and the world of work to ensure young people at all levels of education understand the expectations of employers, and that employers are properly engaged"
"How to achieve a culture of real partnership between employers and education, where employers view themselves as co-investors and co-designers rather than simply customers"
A genuine, long-term partnership approach between schools, colleges, training providers, employers, parents and young people themselves is central to the success of this agenda.
We need to increase the opportunities for employers to contribute to the broad general education phase - the period of education from pre-school to the end of S3. Employers and schools need to develop strong two way partnerships
Young people, parents, carers, teachers and practitioners, careers professionals and employers are all key to this effort, and success will depend on ensuring that they are central to what is offered, and how it is delivered and promoted. 
Personally, I find it ironic that there are no training courses in My World of Work or jobs for community managers, or that there is no reference to Circle the Schools in the Two groups of people who have the experience to make the things in this report work.

Maybe some of the community managers at California's partner companies and innovative EdTech Companies can expand their circle the school initiative to help implement Scotland's Young Workforce.

...I'm off to see how many exhibitors at the Scottish Learning Festival have their head office (or any offices) in Scotland.

A quick scan of the 200 exhibitors 60% are government and 3rd sector (60 Associations, charities and 3rd sector organisations and 46 government bodies) and 40% are companies.

Of the 87 commercial suppliers 29 have Scottish addresses.Like community management, EdTech is a growing sector as education technology companies attracted VC investment of $1.2 billion in the US in 2014... But only 30% of the commercial exhibitors include a Scottish address. The Healthier Scotland Cooking Bus address in the Scottish Learning Festival programme 170 miles South of the Scottish border.

I also noted that none of the Scottish companies who made the trip to the International Society of Education Technology in Philadelphia in June were exhibiting at the event... An indication that, like me, these companies have found US educators easier to engage than UK educators?

Either way commuting to England looking for work or flying out to the US to do business sure isn't cheap. Mhairi Black was in the news complaining about having to travel to London for her work... at least she can claim the travel back on her lavish expense account.

Regardless of where these businesses are based, maybe next year the stands will all be manned by students as education suppliers will be keen to give students some experience of working at a trade event?

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