Posts Tagged ‘Government’


Uploaded by Dean-Melbourne

The reason for this post is to see if we can get a little discussion going about the best approaches for a economic slowdown.  For our discussion, let’s just assume the economy is slowing.  Whether it is or isn’t, is irrelevant for this discussion.  We can also stipulate that both government and business have a range of reactions that will vary from time to time. 

My experience is that there is not only a different reaction but also a different belief system.  Businesses first reaction is usually to tighten the belt and look for ways to be more productive.  Businesses also tend to streamline and focus more on their core business.  Some businesses will see this as an opportunity to grab marketshare or expand into new markets.

This  year we’ve seen the U.S. governments reaction is to borrow money and give it to tax payers so they will spend and stimulate the economy.  I haven’t yet seen a list of programs or agencies that they can cut back or cut all together. 

I think both government and business will try a lot of accounting tricks to move money around and make things look better. 

So this is just a very broad brush on the difference.  I hope what I’ve done is set the stage for a discussion.  As they say, there are no rules in a knife fight (Butch Cassidy).  I will however, edit anything out where one person calls another an idiot. 


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A lot business complain that people entering the workforce simply aren’t read to go to work.  It’s a basic as knowing what to wear and how to show up on time.  There are also some issues about basic language and computer skills.

 The solution is a good partnership with a local 2 year college.  Many of them have work readiness programs and/or are willing to partner with a business to provide this type of training.  I’ve seen this done both pre and post hire.

 Sometimes on a pre-hire basis I’ve seen companies send employees for a week or so of training and then if they successfully complete the training, they are reimbursed the day they start work. 

 Another funding mechanism is to look at the grants and programs offered on a state level for just this type of training.  One good model is the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership. 

I’d be intereste in knowing about other programs offered in other states.

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In the business world, we are always looking for ways to increase output while decreasing costs.  This is what the whole quality movement is about.  So how do you apply these principles to increase education funding.

First, for the sake of argument let’s just freeze education funding at current levels.  If we can provide the same or better education for less money we’ll free up money to do other things.  Second, we let’s assume we can change the funding from “butts in the seat” to some other formula we’re the level of quality of education equals funding.  I’ll come back to this.

Okay, so what we focus on is dramatically reducing time to proficiency for the middle 60 to 70% of students.  I’m leaving out the top and the bottom for right now because the real big dollars are in the middle with all the average kids. 

The first step is to define proficiency as the education the average student gets from K-12.  At the start, whatever the school system defines as proficiency will be our target.  Now, we measure the current time to proficiency.  It may be more or less that 13 years but we want a real time to proficiency not just the day you get the diploma.

Now through applying process improvement techniques that allow us to drive out waste and reduce time on the first pass I guarantee you will find 50 to 100 quick hit improvement ideas.  A quick hit is anything that reduces time to proficiency and that doesn’t require a lot of time or money.  These quick hits come from looking at the current curriculum in depth.  (By the way, my definition of waste is anything a student doesn’t remember after the test.)

A lot of quick hits have to do with our courses are arranged, rearranged, combined, modified and deleted.  You tend to break down subject and grade barriers and instead start to think in terms of start to finish.  For example, you set a reading level and you continue the education until the student reaches that level.  Instead of teaching reading in the first grade it may take several year to reach a certain level of speed and comprehension.  Quick hits are also trying to match the way people actually learn versus they way we traditionally teach it.

Through this effort you will reduce time to proficiency.  Some students will finish in 10 years, some 11, some 12 and some might take 14.  In the business world, we’ve always gotten a 30% reduction initially.  But let’s say you get a 5% reduction.   That means we cut an average education by about 6 or 7 months.  What does it 6 to 7 months of education cost a school system?  It’s a lot.  Now you can take the money and spend it on something like higher teacher salaries or a music program. 

You can read all about how this works in a business environment in my book Learning Paths.  I’ve also posted a whitepaper in my blog. 

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bls_emblem.gif  There’s all sorts of good and free information that is very useful for both training and human resource management.  I recommend a quick visit to www.bls.gov and you’ll be surprised what you can find.

I’ve used this information for helping travel agents select a targeted base for leisure travel.  The success in selling leisure travel is to target people who take a lot of trips and can take advantage of higher end packages and cruises.  So how many prospects are there and where are they located?  The Bureau of Labor Statistics has that information.  I like this as a source because it’s relatively unbiased and has a stake in presenting clean data. 

I’d be interested in any other sources that are comprehesive and clean.

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