Sunday, 8 February 2009

Retraining after redundancy in the 21st century

The quotes from emails below relate to a proposed course to assist businesses through the economic downturn. There is a request for ideas and my suggestions in reply. My understanding is that the course would be mainly for people facing unemployment.

The request:
................. Meanwhile what I should like to receive help from you is a check list say 5-7 Bullet points of the kind of training/development/ re-skilling/business support programmes that could in your experience be of most definite benefit to this sector....and of course what in specifics a University Business School can and should do to help, support, move on and change the direction of the economy.
The reply:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Pamela McLean
Date: 2009/2/7
Subject: Re: Help Please

Hi David

An interesting challenge. I decided to think about your course - and came up with the collection of ideas below. It's a bit more than bullet points, but fits your 5-7 items request. I have no idea how long the courses are that you are planning, but the structure I suggest could be adapted for length.

The philosophy behind this course plan is that you must help the participants see that the 21st century really is a "new place to live". The time we are living in is in not "the familiar 20th century - but with more mobile phones and Internet applications added to it". The participants probably can't go back to where they came from. Therefore they must learn something different - and not be given training/re-skilling for a world that doesn't exist any more.

1 - Welcome them to the 21st century and reassure them. (If they have lost their jobs they will be feeling insecure, angry and frightened, rather like people on a journey who have crash landed in a foreign land.) Let them know that this new environment, although it is unfamiliar is an okay place to be - they may even grow to like it.

2 - Help them to see why they are probably not going back - the organisations and organisational structures they came from will be changing form. Help them to analyse what they did and did not like about their previous work situation, and what their ideal world and work situations would be. Help them to look forward in a realistic and positive way to building their futures, recognising that their new lives could be improvements on their old ones, even if they have to make major adjustments.

3 - Get very real - Help them to generate lists of precisely what building blocks would be needed to build the kind of ideal work/life situation they would like in the 21st century for themselves and their children and grandchildren. Then show them how many of those building blocks are already in place - or nearly in place. Encourage them to think of themselves as contributors and collaborators in building this better world. (NB They can start to collaborate on building it even while they are on their course, through their project work)

4 - The 21st century is largely about short term teams collaborating for a purpose. Help the course participants to analyse their own strengths and weaknesses and interests. Do this in the context of seeing what kind of teams they want to join, for what purpose, and then recognising what skills training they need. (This is where the practical skills training comes in. They may well have useful skills that can re-emerge quite quickly if they can find the right collaborative team to join, and are willing to be adaptable.)

5 - Make it practical - get them working in teams, and using a mixture of F2F and Internet based communication methods for their collaboration, so they get confident about working in virtual environments. This is not just a matter of knowing how to "make the technology work" it also has to do with the human factors and understanding some of the subtleties of Internet based inter-actions and collaborations. In this project work you will be training them in the culture of 21st century working practices . They will be learning by doing. It will be a great morale booster if, while they are learning the skills of 21st century collaboration they are also producing something they consider worth while. If the course is long enough some participants may find themselves contributing to "real projects" in collaboration with people who are not part of the training course, but who recognise your participants as potentially valuable to them. This kind of collaboration would be like combined work-experience/extended interview, and could lead to recommendations to join later paid collaborations. (NB "collaboration" is one way of seeing the relationship between customers and suppliers in 21st century - good information flows enable customers to influence what supplier supply, thus collaborating on what is delivered).

6 - Introduce participants to key ideas of 21st century "work for wealth creation". I could give you a list of ones I think important, and why, but you did only ask for bullet points. The key points are valid for people setting up new businesses as well as people working on an individual basis.

7 - Let them know that they are definitely not alone. Show them how they fit in and can continue to collaborate, and communicate and contribute, and continue their own skill development in a meaningful and valuable way, even before they see clearly how their paid work future is going to work out. This collaboration to build the future will be of genuine value in what it creates and will also ensure that people keep their confidence and social networks and have a good ongoing CV. (You may need to explore aspects of unemployment benefit entitlements to make sure your participants do not cause themselves financial hardship by using their time productively after formally completing their course. They may need to lobby for changes in the law regarding what unemployed people are/are not allowed to do. I am not sure of current details, but I know it has been an issue in the past.). By the time the course ends it should be natural for the participants to continue collaborating and supporting each other through the Internet. They should also be confident members of various communities of interest/purpose external to the course.

Hope that helps.

(Dadamac - Knowledge Brokers).

1 comment:

Cicely Nigeria said...

6. Work for Wealth Creation is key: how can what you are doing generate a sustainable income for individuals/families? The greatest challenge of the internet/21st century comms is using the medium to actually "add value" do something others will pay for. Everyone is used to getting everything for free and unless there is a fundamental economic paradigm shift towards a more socialist model (and who knows what will emerge from the current turmoil!) that's what people without jobs in the modern world need.