Progressive Place

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Performance Support for launching the Green Collar Workforce

(c) David Calloway 2009

What group in our nation is highly technology-savvy, yet can't even get through that most basic economic and social gateway, the high school diploma? Oops-- the question gave away the answer. Just like our new president, a vast number of today's high school dropouts have absorbed advanced technology into their daily lives in a way that will remain forever alien to most multiple-degreed professionals over 50.

This essay describes a way to provide
those hidden gems of the workforce with a low-cost, high-impact support and learning framework of online instruction and community, via their ever-present cell phones.

Three things have excited me in the past year: an LMS, the Green Collar Jobs movement, and Social Networking. Here's what each is:

  1. An LMS, or Learning Management System, is an online environment for managing, tracking, and participating in organized learning activities.
  2. Green Collar Jobs will help get our economy back on track, reverse our environmental mess, and pull millions out of poverty.
  3. Social Networking has wired today’s youth civilization in a way that remains a mystery to most workers over 50.
As a citizen, I’ve puzzled over how I could merge my work with my passion to serve both people and planet. As an LMS analyst, I manage an online system that provides learning and certification to over 2000 field workers in the energy industry. The skill, safety, and compliance education I now provide to thousands of energy workers is much like what millions of green collar workers will need to acquire over the next few years. At a recent LMS vendor conference, I realized how I could merge these two important parts of my life.

Failure of Jobs Programs. Since the War on Poverty in the 1960s, job training has been seen as a primary means of bringing people out of poverty and into the mainstream. But it has often failed, for many reasons. Budgets run out and support structures are withdrawn before vital lifestyle changes can take place. Three generations of participants have gotten their hopes up, seen those hopes dashed, and ended up back where they started. Conditions today are, paradoxically, either worse than ever, or better than ever, depending on your perspective.

On the worse side, consider the School District of Philadelphia’s forty percent drop-out rate. Educated professionals know from experience that it’s hard enough to stay employed with “just” a college degree. Imagine the sense of hopelessness of living without even a high school diploma.

But on the better side, we see millions of such “poorly educated” young people, here and around the world, using advanced digital technology to connect and share information of all kinds, as quickly and naturally as breathing. Using tools that may be forever out of reach to many well-educated, highly-paid professionals, they have achieved the ultimate measure of technology adoption: they've made it a ubiquitous part of their lifestyle.

A productivity framework could be delivered via powerful smart phones, such as Blackberries(R), connecting those new to the workforce with a powerful support structure, and with each other. It would be a cost-effective, easy to use online environment for ongoing, real-time e-learning, skill building, mentoring, engagement, and monitoring. It would bring new workers, organizational and corporate allies, mentors, volunteers, and other allies together as collaborators, "co-laboring" toward a shared outcome: a smart, productive, engaged, and constantly improving workforce.

The author can provide more detail on this framework, upon request. If you might be able to help or advise in enabling this initiative, please respond by email to writebrain1 at comcast dot net.

Blackberry is a registered trademark of Research In Motion Limited

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At January 30, 2009 at 3:42 PM, Blogger techcomwiz said...

Seems to me a great idea, taking advantage of the ubiquity of the technology to do good. And, it would fit within a broader strategy of a "global green deal", such as that described by Varda Burstyn in her chapter "A World Fit for Children" in the book Child Honouring (forward by the Dalai Lama). [The article can be found online in Burstyn's blog, The Chemical Edge, in Section 3,"Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win":]

Maybe Americans now have a president who would support your idea. Good on ya. What can others do to support you?

David Fenton, M.Sc., M.Ed.


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