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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the 
Nader Imani  Interview of
10-31-2014.

High-tech German employer:
Combat worker shortage with business-labor-educator-government partnerships

OVERVIEW

Following publication of the Civic Caucus statement on human capital, a recurring question has been how to sort out the role of employers, as distinguished from educational institutions and other training organizations, in providing education and training for the specific jobs and specific skills and categories that employers need to fill. Nader Imani, chief executive of Festo Didactic, the education division of Festo AG, a German robotics firm, discusses his firm’s strategy for helping employees (existing and new) keep their skills up-to-date and for matching skills to the changing workplace technologies.

Imani confirms the observation that a U.S. high school diploma no longer is sufficient for the skills required for most jobs in manufacturing today. He argues that, as Minnesota and the rest of the nation face a major shortage in workers qualified for such jobs, employers themselves need to play a significant role, but not necessarily in isolation. Imani suggests that, perhaps taking a cue from countries such as Germany, employers, labor, educators, trainers, and government should develop and implement workforce strategies in partnerships with each other. Such partnerships would help to calm some employers' fear that investments in training will only encourage workers to seek greener pasture.  He also discusses the likelihood of individuals’ obtaining well paying technical jobs if, instead of aiming for four-year liberal arts degrees, they sought two-year, post-secondary certificates attesting to their qualifications.

For the complete interview summary see: Imani interview

Response Summary: Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

To assist the Civic Caucus in planning upcoming interviews, readers rated these statements about the topic on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

1. Topic is of value. (8.1 average response) The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Further study warranted. (6.9 average response) It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

Readers rated the following points discussed during the meeting on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

3. High school no longer sufficient. (9.9 average response) high school diploma is no longer sufficient for the skills required for most jobs in manufacturing.

4. Manufacturers face worker shortage. (8.6 average response) Minnesota and the rest of the nation face a major shortage in workers qualified for today’s manufacturing jobs.

5. Employers need to act. (9.6 average response) Employers need to take an active role to resolve this shortage, either investing in their own training or working closely with others to develop appropriate training to be offered by other organizations or institutions.

6. Partnerships needed. (8.4 average response) Reflecting the German model, employers, labor, educators, trainers, and government should develop and implement workforce strategies in partnerships with each other.

7. Partnerships lessen concerns. (6.3 average response) Such partnerships would help to diminish employers’ concerns that investing in training will result in workers’ leaving for better-paying jobs elsewhere.

8. Certification of skills better for tech jobs. (9.3 average response) Many individuals would be more likely to obtain well paying technical jobs if, instead of getting four-year liberal arts degrees, they earned two-year, post-secondary certificates attesting to specific job qualifications.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.

11%

0%

11%

11%

67%

9

2. Further study warranted.

11%

0%

22%

44%

22%

9

3. High school no longer sufficient.

0%

0%

0%

11%

89%

9

4. Manufacturers face worker shortage.

0%

0%

11%

44%

44%

9

5. Employers need to act.

0%

0%

0%

22%

78%

9

6. Partnerships needed.

11%

0%

0%

22%

67%

9

7. Partnerships lessen concerns.

13%

0%

25%

50%

13%

8

8. Certification of skills better for tech jobs.

0%

0%

0%

38%

63%

8

Individual Responses:

Don Anderson (5) (5) (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5) (10)

6. Partnerships needed. However, is such an arrangement possible in this country's current political climate of non-cooperation?

Vici Oshiro (10) (7.5) (10) (5) (10) (10) (5) (10)

3. High school no longer sufficient. But when planning an educational program we must remind ourselves that these people are not just employees. They are citizens and family members too. And they may even have some very interesting avocations.

4. Manufacturers face worker shortage. One line of thinking tells us we will have a major shortage. Another line of thinking tells us that we''ll have enough robots so that we won't need to work 40 hours per week.

8. Certification of skills better for tech jobs. For some jobs.

Roger Johnson (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

1. Topic is of value. All one needs to do to realize the importance of this topic is to follow the efforts of Chancellor Rosenstone of the MNSCU System in his new effort called Charting The Future. He has spent $2 Million on a consultant to help with the effort to figure out how the State's Colleges and Universities can do more with less. We are at a conundrum in this regard. The Chancellor needs to hear directly from Nader Imani.

4. Manufacturers face worker shortage. The Minnesota State Demographer can verify that we are looking at a looming worker shortage in the years ahead, and if we wish to truly restore Minnesota's manufacturing base, and the highly paid jobs that are associated with it, we have to invest in engineering majors, who are the people that start and run manufacturing companies and we have to have in place the very consortium of business, labor, education and government to help put it all together for the benefit of our entire state.

5. Employers need to act. When and where is the next scheduled meeting between employers and their area community colleges to begin discussion of the solution to our state's economic future? If one isn't scheduled, then we begin to see why nothing is happening.

8. Certification of skills better for tech jobs. This is a "no-brainer."

David G. Dillon (0) (0) (10) (10) (10) (0) (0) (10)

1. Topic is of value. I don't believe the German model can be transferred here. Most employers view unions as something to be avoided at all cost. Unions reserve the right to organize strikes, in effect, it is a form of legally protected extortion where a companies investments and assets are blocked from being used until workers demands are met. Past experience has shown that these demands can be unreasonable and put the company at risk.

5. Employers need to act. And, of course, the smart ones are.

6. Partnerships needed. I don't believe the German model can be transferred here. Most employers view unions as something to be avoided at all cost. Unions reserve the right to organize strikes, in effect, it is a form of legally protected extortion where a companies investments and assets are blocked from being used until workers demands are met. Past experience has shown that these demands can be unreasonable and put the company at risk.

7. Partnerships lessen concerns. This hope makes little sense on the face of it. What is hoped is that an individual employee won't take another better job somewhere else because there is a "partnership" between their employer and the government or educators?

Don Fraser (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5)

1. Topic is of value. Very helpful description.

2. Further study warranted. The German model appears to provide far better choices for students.

3. High school no longer sufficient. Seems self-evident.

4. Manufacturers face worker shortage. Appears to be the current situation.

6. Partnerships needed. A goal worth seeking.

Chuck Lutz (8) (8) (9) (9) (9) (8) (7) (9)

Mina Harrigan (10) (8) (10) (10) (10) (10) (na) (8)

Tom Abeles (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na)

Now the question at hand, which is the same one that Don Fraser's group faces: Who is going to "bell the cat"? Discussions, interviews, meetings, and ... are great. But when the answers are staring everyone in the face, another interview, a study paper, working group, etc., does not substitute for lack of will as in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Someone has to have the courage to believe and step off the edge.

Peter Hennessey (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na)

We should not be surprised that a proposal for public-private partnerships comes from a German. Whatever the polite term is for whatever economics they are practicing or proposing (people recoil in horror from its proper name, fascism), it sure does not sound like a classical free market. It sounds more like medieval mercantilism, the infamous soviet five-year-plan economics, or its American version, a government "policy" -- energy policy, economic policy, health care policy, whatever policy. Just yesterday Al Gore called for a "food" policy. The notion of a truly free market, from the Scottish Enlightenment and our Founders, just does not fit the control-freak mindset of the modern academic-government bureaucratic elite. How sad.

I wonder if these people, this guest speaker included, ever stopped to look back, what they thought in 1950 the job market would look like in 1960, -70, -80? (Take any other time span you like). Did any of their expectations or projections come true -- in the US, in the USSR, in Europe then or today? In China? So why are they so confident that anything they propose now would come true in the foreseeable future?

A recent news item claimed that 50% of today's jobs will be gone in the next 15 years. They might as well have said that 50% of today's jobs were not even thought of 15 years ago, and very few or none of the jobs that survived are done the same way as 5-10-15-30 years ago.

Who planned the economy in the late 1800s when America dazzled the world with a flood of new inventions? What did schools teach, and who in 1870 told schools what to teach, to prepare workers for the coming era of transcontinental railroads, commuter trains, steam ships, power plants, transmission lines, oil fields, pipelines, telegraph, telephone, radio, cars, airplanes, assembly lines, etc.?

The point is, you don't have to be cloistered historian to know that all the ideas for a planned economy, planned to whatever degree, by whatever name, have been tried before -- and they all failed. Only an ignorant fool, or someone with a sinister ulterior motive, would try to mislead the people into thinking that any of these failed ideas are "new" and "promising."

How do you prepare for the jobs of the future? That's a question for each individual to answer for himself. No worker in any trade or profession can shirk his duty to keep up to date. Educators and employers can help define and foster the basic universal skill sets that allow individuals to adapt to changing requirements. The alternative is a planned and therefore fatally stagnant economy that uses the force of law to impose its unavoidably flawed and incomplete vision for the future. And, miraculously, those basic universal skill sets, that allow an individual to adapt to changing conditions, have not changed, not in our lifetimes and in fact not ever in history. Employers have always been looking for employees who have good verbal and written communication skills; to be self-starters and team members who do not need to be micromanaged; to have the technical skills required by the job, and the intelligence, the mental attitude and the drive to acquire and keep them up to date.

The fact that anyone is reduced to proposing any sort of business-labor-education-government partnership, or that some companies over the past 40 years have had to start their own in-house education programs, is evidence of the failure of our schools, terminally trapped in the failed education theories of the progressive movement, to teach our kids these basic universal skill sets. As to specific jobs, there are a few trades and professions that have always been needed and can never be off-shored. I wonder why these proponents of "new" ideas never bother to make a list of those.

Bright Dornblaser (10) (5) (10) (8) (10) (10) (5) (na)

Erick Ajax (10) (9) (10) (10) (10) (10) (8) (10)

Great topic right on point

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (executive director), Dwight Johnson, Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
 Dan Loritz (chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman


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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
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Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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