P2PU, Skillshare, Badges—Let’s See What We Can Make of This! (Idea #4*)

Skillshare's motto is "Learn anything from anyone anywhere." P2PU offers a School of Webcraft in which you can learn Java, PHP, and HTML (in Spanish). There are more (and better) self-directed learning platforms and opportunities everyday. They are low-cost (many are free) and increasingly social—providing access to peer support and feedback not unlike what you might expect in a more traditional classroom.

Only you can learn at your own pace, on your own time, and there's no pesky parking to deal with.

The Mozilla Badges project (facilitated by HASTAC and funded by the MacArthur Foundation) is working on solutions to the one thing learners need that these new platforms have not yet been able to provide: credentials—the currency of learning that individuals can trade on when applying for jobs. advancing their careers, or just developing their professional portfolios. This is one of the most sophisticated inquiries into the nature of credentials that I have seen (I was jumping up and down with such enthusiasm during the first webinar that I ripped the head-set out of my ears...twice).

The idea is simple: as individuals learn, they accumulate badges that demonstrate their mastery of specific skills—think an adult version of girls scout badges, but portable so you can display them on various social media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).

This effort is also providing a solution for one of the thorniest problems workforce professionals face—the softskills problem. The right badge system can enable peers, co-workers, supervisors, and reports to "vouch" for your ability to work in teams, communicate, and all do all the other things that make you a great colleague instead of just a tolerable one.

Too gamey for workforce you say? The VA doesn't think so.

And have a listen to Brad Burham here at BigThink. He starts out talking about SOPA and innovation, and winds up citing the importance of retraining and explains why traditional models are cost-prohibitive (and possibly less effective). Seriously, have a listen (it's only four minutes).

 

Now, let's level up.

* This is part of a series of entirely subjective posts intended to inspire greatness among applicants to the Workforce Innovation Fund. The opinions and perspectives expressed here are not those of Social Policy Research, the US Department of Labor (USDOL) or anyone other than the author. Please steal the ideas you find most promising.

Leverage the "Gig" (Idea #3*)

In my state (Oregon), there are six people looking for every one job—this despite a rosier than expected jobs picture in January.

We need to get beyond thinking about the traditional "job" as the goal. What we want is people working in productive and meaningful ways that allow them to earn decent wages and contribute to the overall well-being of their communities. Work can take the form of a job, but it can also take the form of a series of "gigs"—shorter periods of typically intense work. Some industries—typically in the creative sector—are organized around the "gig" already: film, music, performance art, etc.

Greg Hartle and I talked about this as part of his "Ten-Dollars-and-a-Laptop" Project. Feel free to have a listen.

 

What would happen if we facilitated access to "gigs" through the workforce system and not just "jobs"? Would more people find paid work? What else would people need to help navigate this kind of work and document what they learn?

Let's find out...

* This is part of a series of entirely subjective posts intended to inspire greatness among applicants to the Workforce Innovation Fund. The opinions and perspectives expressed here are not those of Social Policy Research, the US Department of Labor (USDOL) or anyone other than the author. Please steal the ideas you find most promising.

A Code For America Program for Workforce Development? (Idea #1*)

Code for America

Hackers for Workforce Development?
If you've been here before, you know how much we love Code For America. We featured the organization in our WEadership Guide, blogged about it, and even had the fortunate opportunity to interview founder Jennifer Pahlka. For us, Code for America is not just a wildly inventive non-profit organization, it is an example of a new way of meeting community needs, in partnership with government. Code for America connects technologists with cities to solve problems and builds networks that aim to reinvent government for our modern age.

So what would a Code for America Workforce initiative look like? What could we do if we recruited top-notch Code for America fellows (young people who spend time partnering on technology-based solutions to critical problems) and sicked them on workforce issues? Labor exchange, career navigation, under-employment, career advancement, internships...what if?

It turns out this is not so far-fetched. Code For America fellows worked with the Department of Labor, Veterans services, and the White House on the Joining Forces initiative to help returning veterans transition to new jobs and careers after their service.  

So what else could we do here?

Help us find out. Create a Code for America program for workforce development.

* This is part of a series of entirely subjective posts intended to inspire greatness among applicants to the Workforce Innovation Fund. The opinions and perspectives expressed here are not those of Social Policy Research, the US Department of Labor (USDOL) or anyone other than the author. Please steal the ideas you find most promising.

 

 

 

Meet the Intern—and Re-make the Internship (Idea #2*)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/2581218229/sizes/m/in/photostream/

The Adult Intern.

When people shift careers, whether by choice or necessity, they often want a test-drive. This has been true for decades. Yet, we retain the notion that internships are for the young. This idea is outdated.

It's 2012.

People change jobs and entire careers more often and we need better on-ramps.

(Would you enroll in a training program to prepare you for a new industry if you'd never worked in that industry before?)

The depth and duration of the current recession has brought more coverage of the issue in the mainstream media, though even well-respected reporters seem to have a hard time with the idea that adults can be interns.

Let's change this. Let's redefine, rebrand or come up with an entirely new way of thinking about internships for adults (career-tern-ships? trial-secondments?).  And then let's create some great ones...

* This is part of a series of entirely subjective posts intended to inspire greatness among applicants to the Workforce Innovation Fund. The opinions and perspectives expressed here are not those of Social Policy Research, the US Department of Labor (USDOL) or anyone other than the author. Please steal the ideas you find most promising.

 

Institute for Emerging Issues, Gen Z & Why Twitter Can Be So Great…

A couple of weeks ago, we did a session on social media at Social Policy Research (SPR). It was less about the specific tools and how to use them and more about the potential value/impact. We talked about the idea of ambient awareness*—how peripheral knowledge of what's happening in your networks can expose new opportunities. So, I thought I'd share this story with colleagues I know are interested in creating better economic opportunity for young people—and with anyone else who's interested.

Serendipity
I regularly tweet with @sandymaxey (Ashville, NC—I am in Portland, Oregon). We've never met, but I know we share many interests and I rely on her insight, energy and smarts (communicated largely via Twitter) in my daily work.

So when I saw this tweet:

I had to investigate #NCGenz. Turns out they were livestreaming what looked like a fantastic event here.

The NC Institute for Emerging Issues (and do I ever love the concept of a dedicated resource for looking at how new social, economic, and cultural trends might impact a community) has idenitfied the care and feeding of Gen Z (young people born between 1990 and 2002) as an issue worthy of some serious public engagement. 

Within 5 minutes of receiving Sandy's tweet, I had learned about the event, seen some of the livestream (in which people who were Gen Z were engaged), and found the following resources:

I then signed up for the newsletter, liked IEI on Facebook, and snipped IEI to my "thought leaders" collection.

How to Share?
But how do I share this information with colleagues? Do I email the think (which link?) to colleagues (which ones)? Do I post the link (which link) on Facebook? My page? SPR's page? Do I tweet? 

I wasn't sure the colleagues I thought might most appreciate the event and links would even see them.

So, I drafted this post to explain.

And I'll post it to Facebook.

Maybe others will benefit from it too.

And if any of you reacts with something close to "Wow!", stop for a second and just feel your reaction—that "I-can't-wait-to-tell-the-next-person-I-see-how-cool-this-is" feeling. Got it? Using social media makes me feel like that nearly every day.

#theworldisyouroyster

*Thanks to @caseorganic, who first turned me on to this most useful construct.

#SOPA, Workforce, and Our Future

We loved this explanation of the relationship between innovation and #SOPA - and the example Brad Burnham uses to illustrate his point? It's a workforce example. Thank you Brad Burnham, Big Think, and @danielhonan.

 

 

Interview with Greg Hartle (Ten Dollars & a Laptop #tenlap)

I had so much fun talking with Greg Hartle (of Ten Dollars and a Laptop) last year. This video just resurfaced, so I’m posting it here. It’s wide ranging: leadership, social media, social networks, skills, the workplace – so much fun…

Here are most of the cited links & resources (the commentary is from my email to Greg):

1. Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody. The examples in the book are a little dated but the overall observations holds. And we’re only at the beginning…

2. Dan Pink’s Free Agent Nation. I swear I thought we’d have a hundred examples of the Freelancer’s Union by now…

3. Derek Sievers’ How to Start a Movement in Three Minutes. Where I’d quibble with him is on the idea that leadership is overrated. I think it’s just the idea of leader at the top that’s overrated – leadership is a role, not a person, it’s important but can be shared. And the more, the merrier.

4. Charlene Li’s Open Leadership. I reviewed it on my Cisco blog here.

5. Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner’s The Truth about Leadership. I also did a blog post on that one.

6. UsNow – how do I love this?!?! It’s a little dated but continues to inspire! Here’s the clip that gives me chills every single time (at this point, I could narrate this film – click on part 1).

7. Social Innovation Exchange

8. June Holley’s blog is a great intro to Social Network Analysis

9. Here’s my presentation on Crowdfunding from REVV 2011.

10. Learning platforms – here’s a good summary of potential disruptors. Here’s a list of learning platforms.

DJs, WEadership, and What Makes the MIT Media Lab Work

We came across this video in Big Think

We were so pleased to hear Joi Ito, Executive Director of the MIT Media Lab, communicating the importance of adopting a wide-angle point of view (WEadership practice #1) and facilitating connections between people (WEadership practice #2).

We liked the same quote author Meagan Erickson did:

“The world is full of expertise,” says Joi Ito, “What it lacks is agility and context.”

 

Thanks to Joi Ito for his brilliance and humility and to Big Think for sharing it.

 

 

WEadership Practice #5: Add Unique Value

This post originally appeared on LeadChange. It is the sixth in a seven-part series summarizing the findings of a one-year study of workforce leadership in which we identified six practices next-generation leaders are using, comprising a new model of leadership we call WEadership in a nod to its collaborative nature.

_____________________________

What business are you in?

It’s rarely as simple a question as it seems. Remember the vendors who thought they were in the ice business but were eclipsed by Frigidaire?

Workforce leaders in government agencies, nonprofit organizations or private-sector firms struggle with this question every day as they seek to grow jobs and build prosperity in their communities.

What does it mean to work on “jobs?”

Part of the reason the jobs agenda is so difficult to solve is that it’s not one problem. Most communities face some combination of the following:

  • Too few jobs (especially those offering health insurance and family-sustaining wages)
  • Skills gaps among applicants competing for good jobs that do exist and those in emerging industries
  • Young workers having difficulty making the leap from job to career (or from school to job)
  • Older experienced workers who cannot afford to retire or simply want to remain engaged but in different roles than they play today
  • Labor markets that lack transparency (e.g., applicants submit hundreds of resumes into “black holes“)
  • Persistent poverty, especially among communities of color, which limits access to job
    opportunities and to the social networks that help people advance
  • Overcrowded and underfunded public schools and institutions of higher education struggle to cultivate the talents of all of their students
  • Ongoing economic shocks—not just unanticipated layoffs, but also natural and weather-related disasters of which there have been 83 in 2011 (a record high in any calendar year)

 These challenges are not for the faint of heart, and cannot be solved by a single leader, organization or sector. But they are among the defining challenges of our day. And courageous leaders in public, private, non-profit, and civic sectors all over the country are quietly stepping forward to tackle them—increasingly, in partnership with one another.

How do effective leaders insure they are making a difference?

The 519 leaders who participated in our study—ranging from mayors and state legislators
to nonprofit and corporate executives—offered the following lessons:

  1. Do work that matters. There are a plethora of strategies and approaches for cultivating prosperous families, firms, and communities. And yet, many struggle. If the status quo is not working, effective workforce leaders champion change. They actively seek to understand which problems matter most in their communities and focus on solutions that hold the greatest promise.
  2. Do work you do well or could learn to do well.
    There is much work to do, but effective workforce leaders are choosy. They resist the temptation to “do it all” and find ways to apply their individual and organizational strengths while leveraging the contributions of others.
  3. Measure what matters most (and share credit for success). Measuring the impact of community change efforts in complex and difficult, but effective leaders invest measurement systems that tell them something about impact, even if imperfectly and even if funders don’t require it.

These leaders we engaged assess their assets relative to community needs not once, but over and over again. The specific value they bring changes with time and circumstances but their contributions remain special and significant.

Are you doing work that really matters? How do you know?

_________________________________

Kristin Wolff and Vinz Koller, of Social Policy Research Associates, authored the WEadership Guide (August 2011), the result of a one-year US Department of Labor study of leadership in the field of public policy concerned with work and learning. They were thrilled at the opportunity to link their professional pursuits (public policy) with their personal commitments to positive social change and innovation, and look to increase, accelerate, and intensify these connections within the field of workforce in the coming months.
The entire project is documented at EnhacingWorkforceLeadership.org. Follow it (and them) at @WFLeadership, @kristinwolff, @kollerv.

WEadership Practice #5: Add Unique Value

This post originally appeared on LeadChange. It is the sixth in a seven-part series summarizing the findings of a one-year study of workforce leadership in which we identified six practices next-generation leaders are using, comprising a new model of leadership we call WEadership in a nod to its collaborative nature.

_____________________________

What business are you in?

It’s rarely as simple a question as it seems. Remember the vendors who thought they were in the ice business but were eclipsed by Frigidaire?

Workforce leaders in government agencies, nonprofit organizations or private-sector firms struggle with this question every day as they seek to grow jobs and build prosperity in their communities.

What does it mean to work on “jobs?”

Part of the reason the jobs agenda is so difficult to solve is that it’s not one problem. Most communities face some combination of the following:

  • Too few jobs (especially those offering health insurance and family-sustaining wages)
  • Skills gaps among applicants competing for good jobs that do exist and those in emerging industries
  • Young workers having difficulty making the leap from job to career (or from school to job)
  • Older experienced workers who cannot afford to retire or simply want to remain engaged but in different roles than they play today
  • Labor markets that lack transparency (e.g., applicants submit hundreds of resumes into “black holes“)
  • Persistent poverty, especially among communities of color, which limits access to job
    opportunities and to the social networks that help people advance
  • Overcrowded and underfunded public schools and institutions of higher education struggle to cultivate the talents of all of their students
  • Ongoing economic shocks—not just unanticipated layoffs, but also natural and weather-related disasters of which there have been 83 in 2011 (a record high in any calendar year)

 These challenges are not for the faint of heart, and cannot be solved by a single leader, organization or sector. But they are among the defining challenges of our day. And courageous leaders in public, private, non-profit, and civic sectors all over the country are quietly stepping forward to tackle them—increasingly, in partnership with one another.

How do effective leaders insure they are making a difference?

The 519 leaders who participated in our study—ranging from mayors and state legislators
to nonprofit and corporate executives—offered the following lessons:

  1. Do work that matters. There are a plethora of strategies and approaches for cultivating prosperous families, firms, and communities. And yet, many struggle. If the status quo is not working, effective workforce leaders champion change. They actively seek to understand which problems matter most in their communities and focus on solutions that hold the greatest promise.
  2. Do work you do well or could learn to do well.
    There is much work to do, but effective workforce leaders are choosy. They resist the temptation to “do it all” and find ways to apply their individual and organizational strengths while leveraging the contributions of others.
  3. Measure what matters most (and share credit for success). Measuring the impact of community change efforts in complex and difficult, but effective leaders invest measurement systems that tell them something about impact, even if imperfectly and even if funders don’t require it.

These leaders we engaged assess their assets relative to community needs not once, but over and over again. The specific value they bring changes with time and circumstances but their contributions remain special and significant.

Are you doing work that really matters? How do you know?

_________________________________

Kristin Wolff and Vinz Koller, of Social Policy Research Associates, authored the WEadership Guide (August 2011), the result of a one-year US Department of Labor study of leadership in the field of public policy concerned with work and learning. They were thrilled at the opportunity to link their professional pursuits (public policy) with their personal commitments to positive social change and innovation, and look to increase, accelerate, and intensify these connections within the field of workforce in the coming months.
The entire project is documented at EnhacingWorkforceLeadership.org. Follow it (and them) at @WFLeadership, @kristinwolff, @kollerv.