American Workforce Policy

On July 19, 2018 President Trump signed an executive order to establish the National Council of the American Worker. The American Workforce Policy Advisory Board meets quarterly to discuss a national strategy for training and retooling the American workforce. The board is comprised of 25 leaders from diverse backgrounds in business, education, academia, and the public and private sector; and is co-chaired by Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump, and Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross.

Over 300 companies and associations have signed a pledge to the American worker promising to  increase opportunities over the next five years. With technology, the economy, and social forces changing at an unprecedented rate, the group meets to discuss how to equip the workforce to adapt and change as well. The Advisory Board met in September to propose and vote on several industry-lead strategies.

Strategic ideas include recognizing multiple paths to career success (skills versus degrees); providing learning records that are easy to access, transfer, and share with employers; democratizing candidate recruitment and training, targeting unemployed and underemployed folks in opportunity zones, and working with schools to prepare future workers. Also discussed was finding better ways to measure progress and success for employer-lead training initiatives, and crafting a common vocabulary for sharing concepts across the groups involved.

The emphasis is on finding an industry-education-worker-policy solution, rather than creating a government agency to cause change. This makes sense since industry should have an idea of the skills needed for the modern workforce. The effort may go a long way to ensure American works aren’t left behind (and to dim the memory of industry abandoning the American workforce in years past in favor of cheap labor elsewhere). I’m looking forward to tracking progress, and learning how to keep my toolkit current!

Lifelong Learning: Coursera

What do you want to learn about today? Quantum Mechanics for Everyone? Learning How to Learn? Introduction to Complexity? Machine Learning? The Rise of Superheros and Their Impact on Pop Culture? The Addicted Brain? I recently heard about an easy and affordable way to pursue lifelong learning from name brand schools at affordable prices: Coursera. Basically, you can learn for free, and pay a fee if you need or want the credential.

I learned about the concept from a Kai Ryssdal episode on Market Place called “What if all learning happened online?“, which aired on September 18, 2019. In the episode Ryssdal interviews CEO Jeff Maggioncalda who describes their very successful business model, and the way that we may receive ongoing training in the future – online!

I recently signed up for the service, and am combing through the topics in which I’m especially interested (it’s a long list). I found this article by Dhawal Shah to be especially useful: A Guide on How to Sign up for Coursera Courses for Free. Basically look for the option to “audit” the class. Some courses are part of a series, or specialization, so you may need to drill down to the specific course in a series to audit it. For someone like me who is curious about everything, this is a great opportunity! Plus, since I continually need to restock my toolkit, this is a great opportunity for Coursera as well. I look forward to reporting in on this in the future.

Toolkit: Visual Notetaking

I love learning something new, or learning a new skill. This time it’s visual notetaking, also called graphic recording, sketch noting, and other similar terms. Instead of frantically recording every word of a meeting or class, the idea is to use text and graphics and containers to capture the main thoughts. The visual note taker creates this visual record as the meeting unfolds (almost a performance art), providing a record and a catalyst for the discussion. The individual note taker can implement the same ideas for personal notes.

My note taking style is to encapsulate ideas into summary  statements, so the idea of adding simple visuals to this process is intriguing. Especially since the instructor, Jody Kruger of SAP Labs, emphasizes that the images can be a compilation of several simple shapes and don’t need to be fancy. We received special pens for the class – Stabilo Point 88 (fine 0,4) for lettering and Fine One water-based markers from Germany (.5-5mm) for color. But you can find comparable pens at your favorite art store.

Ms. Kruger practices her skill at meetings (check out her Instagram account), and using Ted Talks posted online. When you get really good, you can work conferences and workshops, making considerable money. To learn more about this technique and see fantastic examples, search the web for visual notetaking, graphic recording, and sketch noting. For classes and workshops, check out The Grove Consultants International.  And you can try it out yourself, using markers and pens that you already have.