Education, Workforce, Business and Innovation

Welcome to Meeder Mind Works – a blog dedicated to discussing how the education sector can better connect to the innovation economy.

I’ll be reflecting on ideas and issues that emerge from my consulting work and government policy background in education and workforce policy, with a primary focus on strengthening the connection between education and high-skilled employment.  Through this blog, I would like to create a space for conversation about the ways business can and should be involved in education.  Where can business add real value and where should the boundaries be between the role of business and the responsibility of educators?

Additionally, I want to look more closely at local programmatic connections. How can business help shape specific career-related programs at the high school, community college and university levels?

And importantly, how are these connections framed so that students emerge into real careers with the knowledge, skills and attributes needed to succeed personally in the workforce and also contribute to the economic success in their communities?  As the U.S. economy faces significant upheaval, we absolutely must ensure our education and training resources are well targeted at the core skills foundational to high-value innovation.

Unlike my newsletters of the past, this forum is meant to be a conversation – particularly one in which we share ideas, research findings, and areas for further investigation.

So, beginning in a few days, I’ll post my first item of substance, looking at the concept of the “Innovation Sector” and the “Industrial Commons.”  Please bookmark this site and send it along to your friends and colleagues!

I look forward to embarking on this journey together.

Hans Meeder

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22 Comments on “Education, Workforce, Business and Innovation”

  1. Rob Says:

    Thanks Hans for sharing your “here and now” real life insights while at the same time identifying the trends ahead in education that will effect us all.

  2. arthur rothkopf Says:

    I look forward to your blog.

  3. Schneider, Richard Says:

    Dear Hans, If you are not already aware you need to look into the Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies (PAS). It was nominated by Gov. Granholm as part of the Natl. Govs. Conference competition for the best national example of a sucessful private/public educational initiative and won. It has all the elements you’re looking for. My school, Advenced Technology Academy, has fully implemented this innovative curriculum. Check it out – you’ll be impressed. Dick


    • Absolutely, Dick. I’ve been doing a lot of work with the Ford PAS team, and am very excited about the approach it promotes for transforming teaching and learning, redesigning high schools, and building business and civic support for education change.

  4. John Kulakowski Says:

    As a second year high school principal with a major challege of transfoming a faculty of 52% having been teacher 30 years or more, looking for the language to tell them that change is necessary. Will not get into what has been done yet, but looking for your opinions in actual verbage to compare or to use.

    Thanks

    John

    • Joe Shaw Says:

      John,

      I too faced the same problem when I took over the school I’m presently at. Having been a principal for 20 plus years I had never encountered a mindset like I did 6 years ago when I frist arrived on this campus. Attitude of “we’ve always done it this way” and “we’re special and uniques” drove me nuts.

      Finally I had to begin the slow but deliberate process of putting some practical but deliberate processes in place that began to build foundation for change. I had to make an example of one or two teachers who had been here for 30 plus years and when other staff begin to realize that change was coming, they began to get on board.

      I then sought out the players who wanted to play and began to work with them on developing common goals that supported the changethat I wanted to make. It has taken six years of determined planning with the support of the district to make the changes that had to occur.

      Do not get discouraged. It does not happen over night.


      • Thanks for sharing your approach, Joe. Having visited your school, I can attest to your success in building a positive, results-oriented culture there.

      • David McElwain Says:

        We call that the “TWADDI” mindset. Translation: “That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It.”

        We have to be cognizant than in any organization there are three forces. Those that represent change, those that resist change, and those that are watching and waiting. Empowering the players that will pioneer the effort and overcome the barriers will move the effort to a majority, but not necessarily a consensus. Best wishes.


      • Good point. Consensus that represents EVERY one agreeing probably means the agreement is so watered down that it’s meaningless. Research on the technology adoption cycle talks about it similar to what you’ve identified — the innovators, the early adopters, the early majority, the late majority, and the laggards. So it’s a progressive work to develop an innovation, and consistently refine it and prove it so that more and more people adopt it. Finally the late majority comes on board (because everybody else is already using the technology), but the laggards may never really get on board. As I know you are in the trenches of education innovation, I’m sure you are constantly facing this human challenge of bringing people along to the next innovation. Keep up the good work, Dave.

  5. Sandy Mittelsteadt Says:

    Hans,

    A very important way companies can make a difference in the lives of students is to invest in teacher externships. One high school teacher touches the lives of probably 200 students each day. By helping educate the teachers, companies can economically reach hundreds of students. From a personal perspective, my teacher externship made all the difference in my teaching – even more that the numerous professional development workshops I attended.

  6. Paula Chaon Says:

    Hans,
    Looking forward to your blog! One of the most meaningful ways business gets involved with our Career Academies is “loaned executives” teaching in the classroom (these are high tech, specialized careers in aerospace and engineering.) We’ve seen student engagement increase tremendously.
    Another way we have businesses involved is through “naming rights” or sponsors for our academies. We’ve found this engages business in a whole new way. (This type of partnership can have its ups and downs. It involves tremendous commitment and openness from both parties.)

    Take care,
    Paula

  7. Nancy Langley Raynor Says:

    As Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at Peace College and adjunct faculty member in Leadership Studies, faculty and staff continue to assess for continuous improvement. One effective practice that has a very positive outcome for employment purposes is requiring each student to have an internship with a local business related to their program major before they graduate. To ensure relevance within the academic program, faculty and business personel meet to identify skills and abilities that the current business/job market desires. These are integrated into the curricula. We know that we are preparing graduates for jobs that may not even exist upon graduation. This is why ensuring that our students have critical thinking skills and abilities becomes essential, not to mention information/media literacy. Ninety percent and above of our graduates seeking employment have been successful. Most frequently this employment is with the businesses in which they interned.

  8. Billie Reed Says:

    Looking forward to great ideas on connecting secondary education to the business world. As a CTE Coordinator, I am always looking for innovative ways to assist the CTE Teachers. Serving as the President Elect on the North Arkansas Human Resource Management professional organization, I am hopeful to bring back to the CTE Teachers I serve in the state of Arkansas.

    Regards,
    Billie

  9. Natalie Prim Says:

    Hans: I too am looking forward to your blog!
    Our Northwest Florida Next Generation Learnng Community’s work continues and we are going a step further and preparing for some summer programs!
    I enjoyed seeing the comments of our colleagues, Sandy Middlesteadt and Paula Chaon. You’re all the best!

    Natalie Prim

  10. Connie Majka Says:

    Hans,
    What a great idea! The Philadelphia Academies, Inc.(PAI) just celebrated their 40th Birthday. So, we have a little experience in connecting business and community organizations to education. For those out there who don’t know us, PAI is a non-profit intermediary who works as a “hub” in a network of students, teachers, academic, corporate and labor entities. We are where the private sector engages in public education. We are pretty good at organizing the employer and labor communities with other non-profit partners. We are looking forward to hearing from others and sharing what we have learned.


  11. I’m such a believer in tech prep and not just because I’m a director of a tech prep consortium. I’ve seen the havoc on both the post-secondary and secondary sides of education when it comes to career and technical education. I hear enough about academia which is extremely important, but not enough about career and technical education, and equally about funding. I’m aware of this country’s priorities when it comes to the wars, health care, and the economic strife. However, career and technical education remains “left behind”. Currently, the only career and technical act addressing the need for career and technical education is the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006. However, and speaking for the state of Texas, we are still operating at 2000-2001 funding levels. With the increase in career and technical enrollments since then, it is making it harder to provide those secondary students those opportunities to take advantage of these rigor and relevant career and technical programs. We’ve all heard of the huge baby boomer retirement that’s to occur by 2020. Supposedly, it’s been said that they comprise of at least 60% of our workforce. Who is to fill these skilled and educated positions? Tech prep is an excellent vehicle to recruit young students into these career and technical fields of study. There is a report showing the inverse relationship of funding versus career and technical enrollment. So, basically in essence, I would like to see an increase in funding under this underrepresented yet efficient Act. I’m in agreement of this blog service to bring about all opinions and considerations.

  12. Rick Delano Says:

    Hans: I appreciate your willingness to develop this blog. My work with Ford Motor Company Fund is strongly supportive of your blog’s core premise…bringing business to the education change table. In our Next Generation Learning program, we help communities rally around and scale up the career academy model to bring transformed teaching and learning to their high schools. We are supporting a network of like-minded communities around the country who are helping each other. We welcome new communities into our network who share this philosophy. Rick

  13. Carol Folbre Says:

    Hans: Texaplex (Ft. Worth, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin) is my playground for building the transformation of local education-to-employment systems, especially since we have the space, ingenuity, and scale. The chronic job meltdown is a decade of opportunity as we establish innovative partnerships formed by community-based organizations and non-governmental organizations in which local businesses, labor unions, workforce boards, governments, schools, parents, community activitsts collaborate. These regional entities are neutral civic spaces that begin the conversation of what needs to be done and then build a broad network of partners that engage in the local labor market. This is what I call local community activism that brings results. I am happy to show you and anyone else who is interested in seeing examples of this working in Texas.

  14. Dave Wilcox Says:

    Very useful summary. When I read your first comments about “The Industrial Commons” it reframed the extensive work done by Michael Porter as he the focused on the economic cluster model. A good summary of his thinking and analysis is published by the Council on Competiveness “Clusters of Innovation Initiative: Regional Foundations of U.S. Competiveness” and is available on their publications site. He has always suggested that innovation and economic sustainability can be attributed to characteristics of a particular region including regional workforce capability. The challenge has been translating that requirement into a targeted workforce strategy to guide the development and delivery of education and training. Often that strategy is guided by the number of jobs required and number of potential students, which may or a may not be related to the regional competiveness strategy. Dr. Joe Lualhati from our organization (GSX) addressed this strategy in a paper prepared entitled “ Strategic Talent Pool Development” based a regional value chain model and is available upon request. Much work needs to be done, however., and a continuing discussion about these issues needs to continue.
    To add complexity to the conversation the February 2010 edition of WIRED describes The New Industrial Revolution which the author believes will accelerate over the next decade. This shifts the focus away from the regional perspective to the global perspective or some combination of the two. The impact on the world of education and training is yet to be understood and considered in state or federal policy. Welcome any responses.


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