“As technology transforms the way almost every job is done, America becomes more productive and workers need new skills.”
–President George W. Bush
Along with many Americans in late January, I heard the president utter those words in his State of the Union address. Maybe it’s conditioning now, but when I hear someone say “productivity,” “workers” and “new skills” in a sentence, my ears prick up. It’s a slightly more evolved version of Pavlov’s dog, with knowledge as the kibble and opportunity the bell.
Putting any individual political opinions aside, I’m sure those words rang true to you as well; after all, everything you do is about increasing productivity. As learning executives, you’re mandated to keep an eye on the “big picture,” meaning enterprise-wide workforce learning and development. That’s a mission that literally covers the waterfront, from the newest intern to the veteran CEO. Despite the range of that range, chances are your budget follows the average in terms of where and how your money is spent.
Michael Brennan of IDC writes our Business Intelligence column. Education expenditures is one of IDC’s areas of expertise, and according to IDC data, the market split for corporate training is 55 percent going for general business skills and 45 percent toward technology training.
That’s a large chunk of your budget going to one mission-critical area, even if it touches all other areas of the business landscape. I’m sure you already know technology changes rapidly, taking business processes, and businesses, with it. The learning in this arena is tied to bottom-line performance, and it must not be ignored.
That brings us to a few friends you may know.
CompTIA is the Computing Technology Industry Association, a member organization with strong interests in workforce development and public policy initiatives to further education. Among other successes, CompTIA has lobbied at the state and national level for tax credits for IT education. We’ve been proud to work closely with CompTIA as a member and help their advocacy efforts to further technology training at all levels.
The day after the State of the Union, President Bush joined two of our good friends for a special announcement from a college in Mesa, Ariz. With the president were Neill Hopkins, a member of CLO’s editorial board and the vice president of workforce development for CompTIA, and Martin Bean, on the editorial board of our sister publication, Certification Magazine, and chief operating officer for New Horizons Computer Learning Centers.
The president joined Bean and Hopkins to unveil the National IT Apprenticeship System (NITAS), a $250 million effort of CompTIA and the U.S. Department of Labor to provide IT workers with the training and education that leads to increased productivity. NITAS, Hopkins told me, will strengthen the connection between workforce investments and educational systems. And that, of course, will only help in your mission to leverage workforce performance to improve business performance. Today’s apprentices are tomorrow’s workforce and next week’s business leaders. (For more on NITAS, visit www.nitas.us.)
Now I can be as cynical as the next guy, and it’s not unusual to see government programs met with cautious optimism and a hand firmly clamped on the wallet. But maybe a little “been there, did that” story would help.
McDonald’s, of course, is a global employer, meaning large-scale needs for critical business functions. CompTIA and the Labor Department collaborated with McDonald’s on an apprenticeship program to help project managers apply classroom learning to daily work.
“That’s the big challenge that business educators face, right?” said Alice Rowland, I/S organization development manager for McDonald’s, which started off with 10 apprentices and is putting in an order for more. “Whether it’s for project management for IT or anything else, the challenge is to transfer classroom training knowledge to changed and improved practices on the job.”
That is indeed the challenge … your challenge. Isn’t it good to know you’re not in it alone?
Editor in Chief/President