In a first of its kind collaborative event during World Standards Week, Workcred and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) welcomed more than 150 guests for thought-provoking and engaging discussions and several solutions for Building an Effective Workforce for the Future. Special keynote speaker Patrick Gallagher, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh and former acting deputy secretary and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S. Department of Commerce, kicked off discussions, noting that while work and education have always been fundamentally linked, one of the elements that has shaped them both is technology.
Dr. Gallagher explained that the speed of technology is simultaneously disrupting and creating jobs, and reshaping job competencies. And as employers try to keep pace with the change, they struggle with identifying required competencies for their workers. "What is most needed is adaptability, communication, and the ability to work at organizations," he said. "How do we standardize the informational interface between workers and jobs?" Dr. Gallagher asked. "If any community knows how to tackle this, it's the standardization industry."
"Transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are dramatically reshaping industries, necessitating new skills and job roles, and requiring workers to reskill and upskill quickly," said ANSI CEO and president, Joe Bhatia, in his opening workforce conference statement. "As future technologies bring new pressures on the labor market, lifelong learning and reskilling initiatives are key to assuring two key things: That individuals will be able to remain competitive in an ever-shifting labor market, and that businesses will be able to find the skilled talent they need."
Fireside chat-style sessions brought together leading experts from companies (Google.org, IBM, Amazon Web Services, and Kaiser Permanente), workforce-focused organizations (JFF), ALF-CIO Working for America Institute, and WorkingNation), institutions of higher education (Georgetown University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Northeastern University), standardization organizations (National Fire Protection Association, International Code Council, and the NCCCO Foundation), and other prominent organizations (Markle Foundation and Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank). Through interactive panels, sessions highlighted The Future of Work; New Credentials for the Future Workforce; Upskilling, Reskilling, and Retraining Today's Workforce; and the Future of the Standards Workforce.
Stuart Andreason, Ph.D., of the Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity at the Atlanta Reserve Bank, noted the importance of partnerships to maximize employment opportunities, including collaboration with different sectors and consortiums across regions.
Shanika Hope, Ph.D., who leads content and research at Amazon Web Services (AWS) explained that AWS collaborates with educational institutions to co-develop curriculums to prepare students for the workforce, and explained that AWS specifically works in tandem with college presidents to help them realize the skills and competencies needed to fill the talent pipeline. Dr. Hope noted the progress of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), which offers a regionally recognized cloud computing specialization certification developed by AWS. NOVA is one of several participating colleges that collaborates with AWS's Educate Program, which helps connect skills training with labor needs.
Filling the "New Collar" Jobs and Creating "Stackable" Certificates
As technology necessitates different skillsets and new job roles, Alex Kaplan of IBM discussed a solution to fill "new collar" jobs that require deeper technical skillsets from digital design developers to associate analysts through IBM's P-TECH program, also known as "Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools." The public-private partnership helps high school students build skills and earn a higher education degree from the outset of their training and participating schools map skills that are valuable to the program's business partners. IBM's P-TECH program offers tools and case studies to help school districts, colleges, state education administrators, and businesses establish P-TECH schools. The primary objective of the program, co-developed by IBM working together with educators, policymakers, and elected officials, is to "make a more skilled workforce," said Kaplan.
"Think of occupations as buckets of skills sets," said Jeff Strohl, Ph.D., the director of research at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, who led the afternoon keynote session. Dr. Strohl added that the speed of change of the task level of jobs is faster than educational systems can keep up, but that standardization and quality control will still be important to facilitate the new era of changes. "The stackable certificates model is also a good way to think about improving how education and training systems can evolve to better react to market changes," he added.
Sara Yerkes, senior vice president of government relations at the International Code Council (ICC), discussed ICC's "Safety 2.0" initiative to provide professional development through its high school technical training program, which connects students to the International Residential Code (IRC) in conjunction with construction trades training. The company's Military Families Career Path Program helps veterans transition their skills, while ICC's Board Shadow Program provides emerging professionals an opportunity to "shadow" the Board of Directors at the ICC Annual Conference to experience real-time leadership.
Bartholomew Jae, director of education and development at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) discussed NFPA's online, classroom, and hands-on training. Graham Brent, CEO of NCCCO Foundation, highlighted efforts to create opportunities in the crane operator industry. NCCCO is a co-founder and sponsor of Lift & Move USA, a program that brings high-schoolers, teachers and career counselors together to a one day open house that provides them with insights on industry. NCCCO also helps connects military vets with crane and rigging industry opportunities.
Several of the expert panelists noted the importance of the ability to communicate and collaborate across culture and regions. "Soft skills are really at the heart of it," said IBM's Kaplan. "We need to find ways not only to manage soft skills but to teach soft skills," he noted.
About World Standards Week
World Standards Week (WSW), held this year on November 4-8, 2019, in Washington, DC, is a premier annual gathering. WSW brings together ANSI members and diverse private- and public-sector stakeholders from across the standards and conformity assessment communities for topical discussions and special events in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration.
Formed in 2014, Workcred is an affiliate of ANSI whose mission is to strengthen workforce quality by improving the credentialing system, ensuring its ongoing relevance, and preparing employers, workers, educators, and governments to use it effectively. Workcred's vision is a labor market that relies on the relevance, quality, and value of workforce credentials for opportunities, growth, and development. Learn more at www.workcred.org.