–About 69 million people (roughly 48 percent of the U.S. labor force) currently work in “middle-skills” jobs in fields including computer technology, nursing and high-skill manufacturing.
–As many as 25 million, or 47 percent of all new job openings between now and 2020, will fall in the “middle skills” range—and the numbers are expected to grow substantially as more baby boomers retire.
–Only 15 percent of U.S. college graduates major in science, technology, engineering or math—a percentage that has remained constant for two decades.
With baby boomers retiring and so few young people acquiring technical skills, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in statistics to understand that the United States has, and will continue to have, a growing shortage of employees for critical and high-paying jobs. This has huge implications for our economy and our society.
The issue is described in detail in the December 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review in the article “Who Can Fix the ‘Middle-Skills’ Gap?” by Thomas Kochan, David Finegold and Paul Osterman.
Training your current employees, empowering them with new skills and encouraging them to tackle new professional challenges seems like the obvious solution, at least to me. The authors believe many employers do not share my philosophy out of fear that well-trained employees are more likely to get poached by other companies.
What do you think? I’d like to hear from anyone who has experience with this issue.
My next several posts will delve deeper into this topic. I, as you probably expect, believe training is a very smart investment. I would not operate a technology training business if I believed otherwise. My next few posts will explain why.
Giving, no matter the reason, is crucial to living a balanced, successful life. Further, I think the very approach taken in giving should be balanced as well. By this I mean, it is better to have a planned and systematic approach to philanthropy. And it’s important to give consistently, not just when believed affordable. It’s been said, “The best way to know you have enough of something is to give part of it away.” I agree.
In my book, Building a Winning Business, I devote chapter 69 to this topic (“Embrace Corporate Responsibility”). Intertech’s approach has been to create a separate organization that’s a company-sponsored foundation. The purpose of the foundation is giving financial support to cash-strapped families with terminally ill children. Intertech has donated $175,000 to the foundation.
As important as financial giving, we have focused volunteering. Every few months, we throw a birthday party for families staying at the local Ronald McDonald House. The parties start with cake and crafts and finish with a piñata. The piñata is the recipient of violence and source of smiles. Most of the kids at the party are family members of a sibling at the hospital… my hope is the parties provide a brief moment to return to just being kids.
We are more engaged, I believe, than ever. While not the goal, some new employees have shared that our company’s visible commitment to philanthropy is a point of difference as they weighed various employment options.
Turns out that getting some balance through giving back is highly valued – a real win-win for us and the community.
First, if you’re not familiar with EO, it’s a great group. Nearly 9,000 entrepreneurs are active in EO chapters around the world. Average revenue for EO member companies is $18.4 million. You could say EO members are extraordinarily lucky and most of us realize we’re privileged to be members of a pretty exclusive group.
For those of you EO’ers visiting this blog as a result of the article, because of our respective fortune, I’m asking for help for someone who has not been quite as lucky – through no fault of his own. If you read my blog regularly, or if you’ve seen some of my articles, you’ve probably guessed that I’m referring to my best friend, Pete Quinn. The most recent article is The Power of Pete.
Pete worked hard and successfully in sales for 20 years before his life was horribly altered after being hit by a reckless driver. Even today, Pete continues to work as much as he can as he undergoes therapy to walk again. (I won’t recount all the details surrounding Pete’s situation now, but if you would like to know more, please see my earlier posts on Peter Quinn and his family).
Peter remains a strong individual and he refuses to be defined by this accident. He also is a husband (wife is Rita) and the father of three beautiful children: Katherine (age 12), Henry (9) and Andrew (6). The family has additional responsibilities and expenses because Andrew is autistic. His condition requires special care and the family is doing everything necessary to ensure that Andrew lives a normal and well-adjusted childhood.
This is a wonderful family that has been dealt a serious and life-altering blow. With your donations, Peter will be able to continue receiving the necessary therapy sessions so he can realize his dream: running (he’s a marathoner) and playing soccer (he was a coach of his kid’s team prior to his injury).
It’s one thing for the owner and CEO of a company to structure his work to accommodate his life, and quite another to consciously build a business culture that allows employees to do the same. But without being boastful, that is exactly what we have done at Intertech. Our efforts have been rewarded with an extraordinarily loyal group of employees, many satisfied customers and a growing number of “Best Places to Work” awards.
In my book, Building a Winning Business, I dedicate eight takeaways to building a people-centered business culture, as well as multiple leadership chapters dealing with this important topic. Some of our strategies include offering job sharing options, giving our employees a three-month sabbatical after seven years of consecutive service, work from home, and nine, nine-hour days.
We also strive to “think first to work smart.” In my book, I dedicate takeaway #47 to this concept, reminding readers: “Don’t get caught in a mindless activity trap. Instead, take time each day to think about the project and make decisions thoughtfully. Encourage your team to keep balance by working smart during the workday and saving “crunch time” for the real crunch periods. It’s consistency over time that makes the real difference in the end.”
Respecting employees as people who need work/life balance, we have created a productive, upbeat culture where people and business can thrive. Sadly, many organizations do not value work/life balance and they are paying a price. A Gallup poll taken two years ago said disengaged employees are costing industries $416 billion a year.
At Intertech, it’s just the opposite. We completed 2012 as our our best sales year ever. Helping employees find balance actually appears to be quite good for the balance sheet! Next and last post in this series will focus on finding balance between business and community.