Workforce Development Insights

Apr 10, 2024

I haven't posted for the past few weeks as I am helping The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce (GA) with a workforce development project. There is still more to do, but already I see important patterns that will impact the success of every organization. Here are a few:

Coordination is a key for high impact. Many organizations are engaged in different aspects of workforce development: educational institutions, governmental organizations, non-profits, for profit businesses. What is usually missing is the coordination of efforts. Lack of coordination of efforts is what limits exponential impact.

The skilled trade positions are more important than ever. For decades we have been preaching that a college degree is the only path to a well-paying job with good benefits. That is not true for everyone. Skilled trades positions offer pathways for growth that can often pay better and create greater job security.

Essential skills can be taught just like technical skills. For decades we have divided skills into soft skills and hard skills. Hard skills are the technical skills one needs to do their specific role. These might be computer, data processing, mechanical skills, etc. Soft skills typically refer to personal skills and people skills. Depending on the list you see, these will include communication, problem solving, work ethic, time management, collaboration, decision-making, leadership, and other similar skills. Think about successful people. Are they successful because of their “hard” skills or their “soft” skills. Soft skills win every time, but the word sounds less important. The words may have fit in the past, but they are outdated. The reality is that these soft skills determine what someone does with the hard skills and how they develop and grow. We refer to them as essential skills. How often have you seen someone fired for their technical skills (hard skills)? Rarely. People are fired because they don't communicate, collaborate, focus, manage their time, show up consistently, etc. The important thing to know is that these essential skills can be taught just like technical skills. You are not born with these essential skills. You learn them over time, and if you learned them once you can relearn them.

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