Archive for October, 2012

You say Tomato…

October 14, 2012 Comments off

George Gershwin was on to something with “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”.

I was not the best in foreign languages. Even though I took many different languages in high school and college, I simply did not excel in the subject, which is fine, we all have gifts differing. I knew that being a professional translator would never come to pass!  So, imagine my surprise when I realized that, while not French to English necessarily, I was in fact translating language every day. With the many challenges we face in workforce and economic development, reforms in education, and changes in our demographic make up, we have yet another layer of complexity to the problem with the different dialects we use.

The two languages that I dwell in are the languages of Education and that of Business/Industry/Corporations. If you think they use the same words, that is far from the case. For example, consider these examples:

Business/Industry Speak                            Education Language

Advertise                                                                  Story
Agency                                                                      Office
Bottom Line                                                             Outcome
Brand                                                                         Identity
Client                                                                         Partner
Deliverable                                                               Milestone
Marketer                                                                   Communicator
Promotion                                                                Outreach
Sell                                                                             Cultivate
Weakness                                                                 Opportunity to Improve

And on, and on, and on. I had no intention of making a complete list here, as that would take hours, but I think you see the dilemma.

How do we solve the problem? Well, first, is it a problem? In fact it is, when conducting business calls, its clear that the language barrier does exist. When you hear words and phrases like  “return on investment/ROI” (ed. translation: perception of others) and “Target Market” (ed. translation: audience). You have to quickly decide what exactly is being asked or explained. Translate this to the classrooms and the languages that educators use and businesses use become muddled and unclear.

Not that we need more examples of why collaboration between business/industry and education is a good idea, it would seem that just knowing what the other is talking about would help. While we will not likely all adopt one universal language, we can adopt a philosophy of sharing and understanding before we call the whole thing off.


The Dark Side of the World of Work

October 7, 2012 Comments off

As mentioned, I presented on workforce issues at Ohio Northern yesterday and as always it was a great time. However, the undertone of my insight has a bit of dark side.

We are in trouble as a nation, and this has nothing to do with current politics, taxes or international affairs.

Its about numbers, big and small. The numbers are demographics, and their effect will change the way communities, regions, states and the nation will operate. To illustrate, let me show you a graph, it’s worth a thousand words.

Look long and hard at this graph…and take it in.

We are in trouble.

First, lets look at one of the basic factors of economic development, that is a simple equation:

E (Economy) > P (Population)

Economic development is about growing your economy at a faster rate then your population. This definition helps us understand a few things:

1) If your economy is growing faster then your population there will be more revenue per person for reinvestment into the community.

2) If your economy is shrinking slower then your population, again, more revenue per person for reinvestment into the community.

The above scenario’s are a great thing as a community can use these extra funds to make things better for everyone, attracting more growth, etc…

Of course, the dark side should be now apparent, if the economy grows more slowly then the population for a long period of time, then the community has less dollars to serve. If you own a business, this means serving more with less, ultimately leading to closure.

So back to the graph, we will see a potential shortage of 20 million working in the next 5 to 10 years. What does this mean for a community?  Consider our definition of economic development…can the economy support the loss of workforce?

What this means is that some places, the places that can provide the necessary workforce, skill sets, and support to these businesses, will thrive. Those communities that cannot will, quite simply, disappear.

Are you scared yet?

Mind you, this is based on real numbers, not spin, not political discourse…but numbers.

There is good news…we CAN pull out of this situation. IF we realize sooner, then later, that serious change needs to occur, we can work together to make this situation better.

Let us start the conversation soon.


Ref: Lautman, Mark – When the Boomers Bail, 2011, Logan Square Press

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