Friday, December 26, 2008


When it comes to both the economy and workplace training, logic should rule, but it usually does not.

For example, when local, state and federal budgets get cut, one of the first things to go are dollars to economic development centers (EDCs). Helping small businesses isn't as sexy for politicians as providing money to individuals in need. But EDCs need government funding because the small businesses they serve are not in a position to pay market prices for the expertise offered at these valuable institutions.

Since effective EDCs (and if they are not effective they should not receive any funds, not even "feel good" funds) result in healthy, profitable businesses, EDCs are one of the few entities that receive funds from the government that actually make money for the government. Profitable businesses pay taxes. Profitable businesses hire employees, who pay taxes. Better yet, the majority of EDCs deal with businesses in economically challenged areas. This means that in addition to the government getting tax revenue from the workers, they are often moving someone from welfare to work, which also saves the government money. But does the government look at the big picture when it cuts funding to EDCs? Do the other recipients of government funds understand that by lobbying to get their agency funded over EDCs that less of them will be funded than if the EDC gets funded?

The answer to both questions is no. Economic development is usually the first area to go during budget crises. That is a shame. That is wrong. Effective EDCs are profit centers, not cost centers for local governments,

Even when there is money for EDCs after budget cuts, the criteria for the leftover scraps is political and relationship based, not profit based. Governments need to measure the revenues being generated by the work being done at EDCs; hold EDCs accountable for adding to the revenue base; and fund accordingly. This would change how the government does its business. EDCs would move away from "funding" and into their own category, "government investing". Governments would have a business relationship with EDCs, who would be expected to be a profit center, not a drain on taxpayer's funds.

What does this have to do with workplace training? Nothing directly. However, just like with economic development, where the long running business model doesn't work, and government must make changes to benefit itself; workplace training finds itself in a similar position.

The difference here is that corporations find themselves in the government role, and relying on education institutions, and using the education model to develop new employees is the long running business model that just does not work.

The goal of high schools and colleges are to educate, not create the perfect employee. The method used to assess the effectiveness of the education is to ensure a baseline of knowledge has been laid for the students, not that the students can utilize the knowledge in the real world. For example, I wasn't the only person to pass statistics who worked at Bankcard Customer Service at Citibank. Why did it take me to move the forecasting model from the unreliable "same as last year" plus a set percent, to a multiple regression analysis that correlated call volume to the season plus ongoing Citibank programs plus ongoing marketing campaigns plus economic trends. The forecasting model I developed allowed for "what if" logic, and was a better tool to ensure the Phone Center was properly staffed.

In addition, education is for the individual. Workplace training is primarily for the business community, and secondarily for the individual. That model doesn't work in schools, and is even tough for Job Centers where the goal is usually to help individuals as much as they can rather than to set a standard of workplace competency required to be an effective employee. If an individual doesn't meet the set standard, Job Center Staff doesn't (can't?) communicate to employers that that individual is not an ideal job candidate.

So relying on schools to get new employees ready for work is just plain silly. And even the schools (and the vast majority of programs) that teach work readiness use the education approach (assessment testing based) which is ineffective for soft skills workplace training. After all, businesses don't want someone who can answer a question about getting to work on time correctly on a test; they want an employee who will always get to work on time. The goal of soft skill workplace training, therefore, is to change attitudes and modify behaviors, not to just impart raw knowledge.

With the current model in place for workplace training is it any wonder that high turnover with its associated high cost is experienced by all businesses?

So, what do I recommend? I believe the time has come for "Workplace Universities", that are sponsored, in part, by the Corporate World, and in part by the participants. The main client is the business community; the secondary clients are the participants. I have the curriculum, I have the program structure, I have the benefits for the Corporate Sponsors (including first crack at the best graduates, i.e. the chance to add individuals who will become their best workers), I have an incentive program mapped out so the top graduates stay with the Corporate Sponsor that hires them for at least three years, and much more. My program is a unique mix of classroom, workplace observation and role play. The program lasts six months. The students can be high school graduates, junior college graduates, and even college graduates that did not have a major that makes them attractive hires.

For those of you unfamiliar with my accomplishments and workplace training philosophies I will briefly mention that I created a work readiness certification program called the best in the U.S. in 2003 by the National Skills Standard Board, and that I improved upon that program throughout the years with the biggest improvement being the addition of my book, "How To Get, Keep and Be Well Paid in a Job" (book web site). The goal of my book is to change attitudes and modify behaviors so workers will implement what they learn. You can read more about my work readiness training philosophy in previous posts, including, "There is a Right Way and a Wrong Way to Teach Work Readiness." For additional information, visit my web site is

What is the next step? If your company is interested in becoming involved with my first "Workplace University" (I am looking for five corporate sponsors), and would like more information, send me an email (JayGoldberg@DTRConsulting.BIZ) and be sure to write "corporate university" in the subject line to ensure your email is not deleted as junk mail, or call 561-842-9942, leave a message, and I will get back to you.

Thanks, and catch you in my next post.