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Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) in education market is set to surpass $6 billion by 2024, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights, Inc. A.I. assists in improving the quality of education by addressing the learning challenges faced in the past including planning, reasoning, language processing, and cognitive modeling.

Various benefits offered by the acceptance of A.I. in education sector include tutoring, grading, immediate feedback on course quality, personalization in education, and instant feedback to students. The aim of A.I. is to be a virtual facilitator for the learning domain and to create virtual human-like qualities, who can think, react, act, and interact in a natural way using verbal and non-verbal communication.

The sector is expected to grow 50% CAGR. The key  players in the A.I. in education market are IBM, AWS, Microsoft, Google, Nuance, Century Tech, Blackboard, Pearson, Cognii, Volley.com, Blippar, Knewton, Jenzabar, Content Technologies, PLEIQ, Luilishuo, Pixatel System, and Quantum Adaptive Learning.

Source: https://www.gminsights.com/industry-analysis/ artificial-intelligence-ai-in-education-market

Published in Trends

The AR/VR market is valued at $27 billion dollars and  expected to reach $209 billion by 2022 according to Statista.   While many focus on consumer entertainment and gaming, enterprise, medical and education are significant market segments.

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The AR Landscape, found on page 10, lists 312 companies, representing $12.1 billion in funding and $69.6 billion valuation. It features all the companies you need to know to track AR market. Find startups and innovators to tech giants and industry leaders, listing names such as Magic Leap, Occipital, Blippar, Niantic, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Disney, and more.

Sources: https://www.statista.com/statistics/591181/global- augmented-virtual-reality-market-size/ http://thearlandscape. pagedemo.co/

Published in Trends

Most of the new hires are not well prepared to perform at a high level in a professional environment, primarily because of insufficient skills, cites a study conducted by Bloom-berg and Workday. The absence of aligned collaboration between academia and business are impeding efforts to effectively prepare students for employment and to reskill existing workers. Findings include:

>> Opportunity for Greater Collaboration: Only 30 percent of corporations and 39 percent of educators say they are collaborating to help reskill and retrain employees.

>> Plans to Invest in Reskilling: Roughly four in 10 corporate respondents plan to invest in reskilling current employees.

>> Adapting to New Technology: More than 50 percent of corporate respondents plan to evolve job responsibilities to reflect future needs and improve their recruitment of diverse talent to address the impact new technology has on their workforce.

>> Budget Constraints a Challenge: Approximately half of corporate respondents anticipate facing budget resource constraints when deploying a plan to address the impact of emerging technologies on the workforce; 84 percent of academic respondents say budget limitations will be their biggest anticipated challenge in deploying plans to better prepare students for the future workforce.

“[It] is the time to rethink how to put reskilling our people at the center of corporate talent strategies…while building stronger bridges to the academic world so we can establish a clear path forward,” concluded Leighanne Levensaler, senior vice president of corporate strategy, Workday.

Download Building Tomorrow’s Talent: Collaboration Can Close Emerging Skills Gap at https://bit.ly/2MDj4AH

Published in Latest News

Seventy percent of learning leaders cite Employee Engagement as the top business driver for learning platform investment, according to the 2018 Learning & Talent Platforms Study conducted by Elearning! Magazine. Engagement has topped the list three years in a row.

Personalize Learning was cited by 49% of respondents; the largest shift seen given only 0.4% cited this four years ago. Improve Leadership Skills (46%), Drive Sales and  Profits (40%) and Increase Employee Collaboration round out the top five business drivers for investment.

Download the complete report complimentary at http://information.2elearning.com/2018lmstmsstudy/

Published in Latest News

The key attributes and skills that large companies look for when hiring new candidates according to a study of 200  C-suite leaders are:

>>  Work Ethic (60%) and Teamwork (45%) were selected as the most important skills;

>>  Over half of professional services (55%) and manufacturing companies (58%) state that Leadership is the most important skill;

>>  Only two of the 14 industries polled think that grades are looked upon most favorably by the hiring team and only 12% of CEOs consider grades important.

When interviewing for a leadership role, they would opt for someone who can exemplify Creativity, People Management and Cognitive Flexibility.  Most respondents also believe that schools should be teaching students the specific skills they will need in their future careers.

Source: https://kingsleyleadership.academy/

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Published in Latest News

Dan Pontefract, Chief Envisioneer of TELUS

I discovered that many people are suffering from their thinking.

Whether via the pressures and stresses at work, a state of freneticism, the distractedness of social media and notifications, or overburdening time constraints, many of us are no longer capable of doing the heightened thinking required to be sane, engaged, and happy.

That got me down a little, to be honest. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. During my journey of research and interviews, I came across many people who had sorted out the secret sauce of thinking. Whether for themselves or including a team or organization that they were leading, these were indeed the “Open Thinkers.” These people had sorted out a way in which to balance the realities of today’s busy world with the absolute need to have space to creatively think while having the time and methodology to make better decisions.

One of my favorite discoveries was when I entered a hat millinery. I did not expect to get a hat made. I just wanted to see how milliners operated. What I stepped into was a hive of Open Thinking. There was simultaneous Creative Thinking (brainstorming, discussions, what if ’s and why not’s) with Critical Thinking (don’t do this, do this) alongside Applied Thinking (sewing, stitching, ironing, and steaming). I learned so much I decided to get a custom hat, to go through the process and experience their world first-hand. It was a glorious, hands-on experience.

The millinery was an incredible metaphor and example of Open Thinking. It was a sublime example of light, where all the dots of my research began to connect. “Open to Think” highlights not only what’s going wrong with our thinking; it provides an antidote for better thinking. It gives you the license to analyze how you currently approach your thinking and makes recommendations on what to alter. 

When I noticed leaders and team members in the organizations I work with were complaining about various pressures and stresses, I began to inquire about their cause. Some of those factors led to a lack of Open Thinking.

There are far too many people who are stressed out at work and life, in part because of an incredible imbalance that they place on themselves, and an imbalance that has been placed on them, too. Time has become the enemy. We no longer use it to our advantage.

What I learned is that people who appropriately balance their time through improved Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking with the need to get things done (Applied Thinking) end up being more engaged, innovative, productive and, happier.

It is possible to win back your time, your thinking, your life.

The model found in the book “Open to Think” is a simple one: Dream, Decide, Do Repeat.  It serves as a reminder that when we balance the three categories of thinking, we are far better off. I hope it provides ideas, solutions, and techniques to help you (or your team) to become better at daily thinking.

—Pontrefact is the author of “Open to Think” his third book.  “Flat Army” and “The Purpose Effect” were his previous titles tackling workplace collaboration and meaningful work. View Dan’s TEDTalk at https://youtu. be/sQSFW8HWVFg  Dan is also Chief Envisioner of TELUS, a four-time Learning! 100 award-winning organization.

Published in Insights

…TRIDIB ROY CHOWDHURY, SENIOR DIRECTOR & GENERAL MANAGER, ADOBE

HOW HAS ADOBE PARTNERED WITH ITS MANY LEARNING! 100 CLIENTS TO CREATE ENGAGING LEARNING EXPERIENCES AND DRIVE ORGANIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE?

The Learning! 100 finalists are an impressive list of organizations with a stellar learning culture, which directly correlates to their leadership position in their respective categories. This endorsement only cements our belief that learning continues to be a critical and indispensable piece of organizational growth. These organizations are invested in creating a vibrant and collaborative learning culture. Adobe is helping them to keep learners front-and-center of all their learning initiatives through unique and engaging learning experiences that can be delivered across devices. This is made possible through innovations in content creation, delivery, tracking, and collaboration. We couldn’t be happier to see this list of organizations - many of which we partner with - and we feel both humbled and proud of the global benchmarks they have set in driving effective learning cultures.

LEARNING LEADERS ARE CHANGING THEIR LEARNING ECOSYSTEMS TO SUPPORT DYNAMIC LEARNING (DIGITIZATION, MOBILE, IMMERSIVE). HOW DOES ADOBE FACILITATE THIS TRANSITION?

It’s all about the ZMOT (zero moments of truth) and the learner. Adobe’s strategy starts and ends with the learner experience. The status quo of expecting learners to come to an LMS has brought us to a stage where LMS is a “four-letter word” at best and irrelevant at worst. We need to take the learning systems to the learners at their point of need. A big part of this story is around mobile-first. We introduced the concept of auto-responsive content authoring in 2017 and continue with our innovations to achieve the author-once, publish-anywhere paradigm a reality in the multi-form factor and multi-platform world. Efficacy of learner immersion in real-world scenarios is well documented, though proven difficult to implement. Our new Adobe Captivate makes it super-easy to introduce VR in your learning - literally with just a few clicks.

We are committed to making the authoring and management experience easier for designers and administrators and the learning experience enjoyable for learners, and that’s the vision we set for my teams at Adobe. Our new LMS allows learners to navigate through content seamlessly across different media, different devices and across online and offline delivery. Learners are mobile, learners learn differently, and learners are adopting technology at a fast rate, so how long can learning organizations afford to stay relevant by tying them to their desks in a uniform straitjacket with a keyboard and a mouse?

ADOBE HAS JUST ANNOUNCED A SIGNIFICANT PRODUCT ADVANCEMENT.  HOW WILL THIS IMPACT THE FUTURE OF LEARNING?

The 2019 release of Adobe Captivate is just the beginning of our journey as we transform how modern learning experiences are created for a smarter world. The future of learning is here, and we are doing everything we can to equip our customers with the right set of tools and technologies to design, deliver and manage smart learning experiences. Some cool new features include the ability to create learning scenarios delivered using VR, creating interactive videos, and using the QR code technology to preview their courses live on mobile. My personal favorite is the ability to change your webcam video background on the fly. Now designers can create any kind of experiences without the need to physically be present or hire a studio with a green screen. You will also see some major advances around auto-responsive authoring with the revamped Fluid Boxes. Captivate Prime, being introduced this fall, has the ability to integrate informal learning among employees into a formal learning plan that is scalable and trackable.

IT’S AN EXCITING TIME IN LEARNING WITH AR, VR, AND MACHINE LEARNING CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK AND LEARN. WHAT IS ADOBE’S PRODUCT ROADMAP TO LEVERAGE THESE ADVANCEMENTS?

We are excited to see how customers use the super-easy VR functionality in the upcoming release of Adobe Captivate. Ease of content creation, dropping price points of the VR devices, and the extreme simplicity of their use makes us believe that it is only a matter of months before we see VR becoming mainstream in learning. We also are starting to see the first set of browsers offering native AR capabilities, driving the urgency of our efforts around a WYSIWYG AR content-creation framework. New developments revolve around how we integrate machine learning to help accelerate learning in a corporate setup.

Published in Insights

We are experiencing a major evolution in work, technology, and the skills that drive them. The fastest-growing fields are in machine learning, data science, vision engineering, operations engineering, and stack development, according to The Ladders. Companies struggle to find the high-tech skills that power manufacturing, technology, and our world.

In “Preparing the Workforce for Jobs of the Future” (page 14), we discover how education and business needs are not aligned, creating a skills gap among graduating students. Organizations like Toyota, Walmart and Amazon have filled the skills void by training, retraining and redeploying talent to high-need areas. But these efforts cannot keep pace with the pace of change. An astounding 60 percent of high schools don’t have a computer science program, so how can students be tech-ready at graduation? It starts with learning and training.

The 2018 Learning! 100 organizations, revealed in this issue, have some great ideas on how to close the skills gap. Navy Federal Credit Union “hires to retires” employees. Vi’s culture attracts and retains talent in the highly coveted field of health care. Shaw Industries partners with high schools and technical centers to train the next generation of talent. Amazon pays tuition up front for employees. Department of Veteran Affairs Acquisition Academy not only trains its own but serves as an outsourced resource for other federal agencies. I daresay every one of the Learning! 100 has embraced the changing workforce, invested in engagement, and support an enabling learning culture that drives performance, retention, and talent. Discover their path to excellence starting on page 25.

How does your organization compare to the Learning! 100? Find out by viewing the “Learning! 100 Benchmarks” on page 44. Learning! 100 organizations deploy mobile, support a remote workforce, invest in learning, and link learning to business impact and management goals. We invite you to join the continued dialogue in upcoming articles, Web seminars, and events. Watch for news at www.2elearning.com.

Coupa, a three-time Learning! 100 winner, shares its story on “Values-Based Leadership.” Though a small company, it has the heart and team of a Fortune 500 behemoth. Jonathan Fear, Director of Coupa University, shares the company’s road to excellence (page 20).

Congratulations to all of the Learning! 100. You inspire us every day. Learning is the answer. - Jerry Roche, Executive Editor

Published in Ideas

Leadership skills are not just for executives or even just people managers. Developing leadership skills is critical for any successful organization, from individual contributors to team leaders to senior executives. We, at Coupa, understand that the number one challenge for businesses is to improve leadership throughout the organization and provide employees with the training, resources, and community to become successful leaders and grow in their leadership skills throughout their career.

Several years ago, Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn wanted to invest in his growing team at Coupa. There were three core values he helped establish for the organization – Focus on Results; Ensure Customer Success, and Strive for Excellence – and these were well understood and practiced by the core team. These three principles are the lens by which we look at all of the challenges and opportunities that come our way.

With the growth of the team, Bernshteyn wanted to ensure the message retained its clarity. He and the executive team wanted to make sure that we keep focused on these core values and keep our entrepreneurial spirit while we scaled and evolved as a company. “We see leadership as supporting the people on your team and giving them space and opportunities to grow in their own personal and professional platform. We believe leadership is helping our employees leverage their strengths, as well as showing them where their blind spots might be. It’s about giving each person direction so he or she can achieve the most out of their personal and professional aspirations. It’s an extremely important role and we take it very seriously, "says Bernshteyn.

COUPA LEADERSHIP  EXCELLENCE PROGRAM

Bernshteyn tasked the training and development team to build a Leadership Excellence Program in 2016. Since its start, we have conducted worldwide workshops across a number of different disciplines from core Leadership and Communication Skills to Hiring Excellence. The most exciting thing about this program is that it enables those who show leadership qualities anywhere in the company with the opportunity to learn and sharpen these skills and visualize their journey.

At the core, the program has four stated outcomes:

>>  Clarify what Coupa expects from  leaders

>>  Gain insights regarding each person’s leadership skills

>>  Determine a leader’s role in ensuring culture is sustained

>>  Create a community of leaders across the organization

Each of these outcomes is designed to present the core values in a practical way, to make sure that each and every participant understands the expectations we have for leaders.

BUILDING AND TEACHING  COMPANY CULTURE

Before we can invest in our employees and enable their growth, we must first ensure that they have a complete understanding of the underlying culture of the company. Coupa’s culture is successful because we thrive on scaling to work with the strength of a big company and the soul of a smaller and more nimble organization. Our CEO’s point of view is that we should run our company and customer interactions as if 100 employees are 1,000 employees. In other words, provide 10x value and success across the organization. This value creates a hard-working, collaborative, and most importantly, the transparent team all working to fulfill the same goals.

The organization is also a “bottom-up” org, where all managerial members are at the bottom of the org chart, supporting their teams and the rest of the organization.

“We believe the top-down org chart is optimized for the Industrial Revolution,” according to Bernshteyn. “This works in a manual labor environment when there’s a supervisor telling people what to do. We’re living in a knowledge revolution where everyone has an opportunity to make an outsized impact to the organization and the world. And so, we believe in an upside- down org chart, which is best described as a tree with its roots, branches, and leaves. The CEO and executive team are at the bottom – at the roots of the entire organization, providing financial guidance, general direction, and broad support for the rest of the team. But the execution occurs at the individual contributor level – the leaves and the branches of the trees. When the wind blows, the leaves and branches feel it first. We want everyone at every level to understand their place in the market, the competitive landscape, and be able to provide quick action based on what they know and what they’ve learned.”

This mindset enables employees to make quick decisions that are results driven which allows them to accelerate at their job and lead a team that follows suit.

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USING AN OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT

Attendees complete a prework behavioral assessment to provide them with valuable insights into how their personality traits play into their work communication and relationships. These qualities and the assessment are then discussed in the group to give an understanding of communication and leadership styles and adapt to the behaviors of others on the team. Their challenge at that point is to incorporate those working styles into the needs of the organization. We recognize the importance of having a diverse group of people working together towards a common goal and giving clear message to all employees that no matter what disagreements are had throughout the process, everyone is working toward the same purpose.

ROLE OF EXECUTIVE SPONSORSHIP

Each Leadership Excellence Program course has an executive sponsor in attendance, providing guidance and real-world examples of the core values. We have received a profound response from attendees regarding the Leadership Journey exercise with the executive sponsor. The executive sponsors for each class kickoff this exercise by sharing their own career journeys. Through a timeline diagram, they have an authentic dialogue with attendees about their positive and negative experiences throughout their career and how those shaped who they are today and how they deal with situations and relationships.

“One of the framing statements I like to focus on is leading with conscious intention,” offers Jonathan Fear, VP of Coupa University, the training and development team at Coupa. “Conscious intention is inseparable from self- awareness. It requires a commitment to see the world around us clearly and be present in the moment. Leading with intention is the intersection of four cardinal points: What I say, what I measure, what I prioritize, and what I do?”

The executive sponsor shares a pivotal moment or moments in his or her career that teaches a valuable lesson. This gives an opportunity to reflect on the positive and negative experiences those leaders have created for their teammates, taking the opportunity to take a step back and see how each decision has made an effect on those around them. By sharing these experiences, it helps newer leaders to understand the struggles and joys that come along with their new skills. Our executives have taken this personal journey and posted it on the walls in their office, so they can share all the demanding work and positive experiences as a reminder for their teams. By the end of the course, the expectation is that we have given a framework for leaders to guide their employees towards a greater adoption of our core values and principles.

PROVIDING AN ENTREPRENEURIAL SOUNDBOARD

This time with our future leaders is also used as a soundboard for their ideas. At Coupa, we are open to authentic conversations about what is working, what’s not, what innovative ideas can we experiment with to make everyone’s workflow a little easier. Throughout the Leadership Excellence class, our executives and talent team speak to the kind of company that we are trying to be and how each person is a part of that amazing journey.

POST-COURSE FEEDBACK  AND ITERATIONS

The major goal of the Leadership Excellence workshop is for each attendee to develop a toolkit of knowledge to perform his or her job better than they could before. However, this is not a closed-door process; we understand it is of the utmost importance to continue fostering these relationships through our employee’s time here at Coupa. Therefore, we have instituted group feedback and check-ins as post work for this class. We invite our attendees to be transparent and let us know what they found valuable or what they did not find relevant to their growth so that we can continue to grow the class into something that resonates for all employees as a valuable tool. The check-ins give an opportunity to ensure leaders are instilling our core values and principles into their teams.

“Feedback from the attendees has been tremendous,” reported Ray Martinelli, EVP of People at Coupa. “Each class has brought together a new group of leaders from across the global organization and equip them with new tools and resources to continue to spread our Coupa leadership culture in their own teams. We couldn’t be happier with its successes and will continue to iterate as we grow to incorporate innovative technologies and opportunities. With the incredible response we had from our Leadership Excellence class, we have branched this out into several other workshops to dive into specific skill sets and continue improving the soft skills of our ever-growing team. We are our own competition and are #CoupaProud to be investing in our own core assets.

Published in Top Stories

IT WILL TAKE A COMBINED EFFORT FROM EDUCATIONAL AND BUSINESS INSTITUTIONS TO DRIVE THE AMERICAN ECONOMY IN THE HIGH-TECH YEARS TO COME.

BY JERRY ROCHE

Preparing future workers for success in the global marketplace is so important that President Donald Trump’s administration has aimed several new measures at the issue. “Workforce development is a critical part of our infrastructure proposal that the White House sent to Congress” First Daughter Ivanka Trump said recently, during a trip to Iowa to learn about one school district’s experiential learning program — where students work directly with local businesses.

Further proof of the importance of a knowledgeable workforce was evident when Jennifer Taylor, vice president of U.S. Jobs at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), recently moderated a round table sponsored by her organization. Focus of the discussion was the problem created by sweeping industry and workforce changes, some of which are already here, some of which are coming.

“The U.S. labor force is experiencing radical disruption,” Taylor said. “The shift from low-skilled to high-skilled workers is happening right before our eyes.

She noted that the domestic unemployment level (3.9 percent at this writing) is the lowest in years. But many jobs remain open in the tech sector that require medium-or high-skilled backgrounds, certifications or education.

“Six million people still are not working — so companies, our education community and our policies all need to be involved,” Taylor continued. “If we take a holistic approach, we can prepare future workers as well as existing workers to meet these demands.

“And once someone has started to work, it is absolutely critical that both the worker and the employer continue to encourage the worker to learn new skills. They may be more technical skills or management and soft skills.

THE SKILLS GAP

David Lewis is president and CEO of Operations, Inc., a national human resources consulting firm. “The biggest issue right now is that there’s a disconnect that a lot of our clients are seeing between education and business,” he said.

He believes that it takes a joint effort by the employee and employer to make sure that people are suited for the new job market. Employees need to find state-supported apprenticeship programs and grants while employers need to find colleges, universities — and even high schools and middle schools like the one Trump visited in Iowa — that are feeding prospective employees to their businesses.

“We’re not turning out enough students that fill the tech sector by far in this country,” Lewis said. “There’s also a big problem in what the schools are actually teaching. That is, students are coming out ill-prepared to take on a lot of these roles.

“For anybody who’s my age or older, [the perception] of manufacturing is mostly men standing on an assembly line, doing manual work, and that’s not what it is. Manufacturing, as an industry, as a sector, needs a reboot, needs a rebrand, because parents are not sending their kids to college thinking, ‘I want them to have a manufacturing career,’ unless they truly understand that manufacturing at Toyota is a high-tech job, that manufacturing at Amazon is a high-tech job.

Operations, Inc., tells smaller companies to consider partnerships at the very basic level as a long-term plan. “You’re not going to out-spend bigger companies,” Lewis observed, “and you’re not going to out-brand them. Competing in markets like Silicon Valley or New York City is just not a fight that smaller companies can win. They have to look, longer term, at ways to feed their systems.”

Hilary Cain is director of Technology and Innovation Policy at Toyota, which has produced more than 1 million cars since 1988.

“As products and the processes for manufacturing them become more sophisticated and complicated, workforce needs in the high-skilled space are expanding,” Cain began, citing domestic companies involved in artificial intelligence (A.I.) and data science. On top of those high-skilled professions, there is a new demand for cybersecurity professionals. “[Because] we are competing for a workforce with folks like Amazon, Google and sexy Silicon Valley companies, we have to try to convince people that there’s also a lot of sexiness in working in the auto industry.”

One of the steps Toyota has taken to attract and keep people is instituting an Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) degree.

“Along with our 8,000 employees who work on the line, we have robots,” said Cain. “The AMTs maintain the robots. These are high-skilled positions, and colleges and high schools were not graduating people with skillsets that we needed.

The two-year AMT graduates get an associate’s degree in Applied Science. It consists of two eight-hour classroom days per week and three days working on the production line as an apprentice. The “classroom” is a mock manufacturing floor. The program has expanded to 22 community colleges in nine states. About 800 students participate, and 95 percent of them find employment with Toyota or a company with similar positions available.

“Some folks even choose to go on to a four-year degree and become engineers,” Cain pointed out.

Meanwhile, Walmart is taking its own path toward pairing candidates with available jobs.

“We have partnered with the Walmart Foundation to invest about $100 million over five years into the retail workforce specifically,” said Sara Decker, who is in the Federal Government Affairs Department at Walmart.

“This past year, we opened 200 ‘academies’ that train associates in customer service, including how to use technology to interface with the customer in a positive way.”

Walmart is the largest employer in the country whose current CEO started at the company as a teenager — so workers are near and dear to his heart.

“A big challenge is figuring out how you train somebody for a job that doesn’t even exist yet,” observed Decker. “So lifelong learning will have to become our reality in the future. We’re excited about where the workforce is going, and where technology is taking it.

Likewise, Amazon has instituted a Career Choice Program.

“After a year of working for the company,” said Steve Hartell, director of Amazon’s U.S. Public Policy, “employees can go back to school, and we will pay 95 percent of the tuition, up front, and books. Now we’re building glass classrooms inside our fulfillment centers. We did it in glass so that everybody who walks by sees and is inspired by those employees taking classes.”

Amazon has open-sourced the program, too.

“The White House asked us to come talk to them about it ” Hartell continued. “We’re also talking about this program in state capitals around the country."

” What if Career Choice Program employees choose to leave Amazon after having their continuing education paid for?

“We’re okay with that. That’s the idea. It’s an enlightened kind of self-interest. We want to facilitate the [perception] that it’s a career pathway.”

FOCUS ON YOUNGSTERS

Getting youngsters involved in science,technology, engineering and/or mathematics (STEM) careers is not an easy task. According to Amazon’s Hartell, 60 percent of high schools don’t have a computer-science department, and only 14 percent of them offer an advance placement test in computer science.

“The challenge is how you provide problem-solving, hands-on information about computer science or STEM in a way that’s approachable,” said Hartell. “Children are concerned about how it’s perceived. Is it cool?”

His company has a boot camp that ushers youngsters (K through 3) into an inside tour to talk about invention. “That’s inspirational,” Hartell said. “We also give them craft projects where their experience is creative and fun and is giving those kids the building blocks of a career.”

Another Amazon program is Coder Dojo, a weekend 140-country program that opens up office space to seek mentors for students up to middle school. It’s free.

“It’s really important to get kids at an early age interested, in a way that’s not off-putting but engaging,” Hartell concluded. Wynn Coggins is deputy chief administrative officer at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). She, too, believes in promoting occupations in the high-skilled STEM fields. For example, her office partners with the National Inventors Hall of Fame on two projects.

“One is Camp Invention,” Coggins said. “These are summer camps that elementary- school kids can go to. They use household products where they get their hands dirty, and they get to put things together. It really focuses on STEM and intellectual property (I.P.). And it brings to them this awareness of how important it is to be able to protect those ideas,” which is what the USPTO is all about.

The office also partners with the Inventors Hall of Fame on an annual competition among college undergraduates and graduates, “just to bring awareness to I.P.”

Other USPTO projects are a Summer Teacher’s Institute; the establishment of an I.P. Patch for the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital organization; and famous inventor (Steve Wozniak, Thomas Edison, etc.) collectible cards.

“All those show how we’ve moved the needle in the [STEM] awareness space,” Coggins said.

But having a career in the STEM disciplines does not guarantee success for any employee.

“Sometimes soft skills need a little bit of attention if a person is coming in with a science or an engineering background,” so the USPTO sends all its managers to a four- or five-day leadership forum and offers a robust mentorship program that pairs hundreds of mentors and protégés together. The latter is a nine-month formal annual program.

“People are put together who would never have a chance to converse otherwise,” Coggins said. “Top executives are paired with entry-level patent examiners, for instance, and they learn from each other. Remember, learning is not just from the top down, it’s from the bottom up, too.

“A lot of these partnerships last past nine months to become career-long connections. It’s a great employee engagement tool, as well as a knowledge transfer tool.”

Toyota has also implemented programs whereby it brings elementary and middle school kids into plants to get exposure to what it’s like to work on a manufacturing floor these days.

“There are lots of manufacturing opportunities, but we also have an incredible need at our dealerships for trained technicians to work on vehicles,” Cain further noted. “This is not grease monkey work anymore, either … because today’s vehicles are highly computerized.

“Not everything requires a four-year degree, but none of this works if you don’t have investment from the top: senior leaders, most-senior CEOs, senior executives.”

TRANSITIONING THE WORKFORCE

“Focusing on the technical pieces are really, really important, but to be a well-rounded employee capable of pulling off a lot of these jobs, you’ve got to have soft skills — communication, public speaking, problem-solving — too,” said Toyota’s Cain.

“It is absolutely critical that both the worker and the employer continue to encourage the worker to learn new skills,” added Taylor. “They may be more technical skills or management and soft skills.”

Operations, Inc. CEO Lewis chipped in: “Forget what it says on resumes. You have to take people [whose careers ended in one discipline] and retrain them, using state retraining credits, and then you re-deploy those individuals into new careers.”

It doesn’t help that the Millennial generation views job-hopping as entrepreneurship. Rather than be retrained by their employers, Millennials seek to pair their specialty at whatever company they can find.

“They know where the grass is greener, and they go to that grass far more often than their predecessors did,” observed Lewis. “But the other key point is they’re also incapable of disconnecting. And employers need to really emphasize this now, both by setting the example, but also by establishing policies around the idea that when you come to a meeting or when you’re sitting in a discussion with somebody else, you either have to turn the phone off or you actually have to put it away. And that’s really hindering the  Millennial in the workforce because their inability to do that — unless they’re working with other Millennials who are doing the same thing — is fostering a communication gap.”

Rotational-type training can help transition the workforce, according to Cain.

“At Toyota, people move within the company from one department to another unlinked department,” she said. “One day they’re in marketing, and the next day they’re in product planning, and then all of a sudden they’re working at the A.I. company.

“I thought it was strange at first, but now I’ve come to see that what it does is create employees that do two things. One, they’re well rounded, so as they move up the ranks they’ve had exposure from everything to H.R. to engineering to product planning to sales and marketing. But also it creates people who are more willing to jump in on something that’s not familiar to them, to take risks.

“It fits into the lifelong learning idea in that it challenges people and pushes them in new directions. It’s probably intended, but when I came into the company it seemed bizarre."

Published in Top Stories
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