Up-Skilling Is Not Just a Buzzword

Up-Skilling Is Not Just a Buzzword

I remember when most people used to think that when they left school, their learning was complete. Whether that was High School, Technical School, Junior College or University. As a teacher, I taught education, in other words I taught people how to teach. I used to tell my students at University that when they graduated and went out into the world – that is when their learning really started. I always told aspiring teachers that one of our primary goals as teachers, is to teach people how to teach themselves.

With the world we live in today that is truer than ever. The younger generations are much smarter, at their ages, than we were at comparable ages. They know a lot more about things and subjects than my generation did. (I learned how to wire Unit Record Equipment – almost an analogue computer.) One of the biggest differences that I see is that they are impatient. Today a lot of older management view that as a negative quality. I view that as a positive. If these younger employees are not learning and growing their potential, as employees, they do not want to stay around. I really admire that quality. They have a need, if not a thirst to learn. They want to continuously improve. They want up-skilling.

The moves us directly into our term for today: up-skilling is not just a buzzword. This is the term that explains that the skills of the employees are being constantly improved and enhanced, they are being up-skilled. That fits perfectly into our view of learning. First take an assessment and understand your individual strengths and weaknesses. Take classes, address your weaknesses, and fill in your skills gaps. Get Up-Skilled. And that never ends. There is always something more to learn.

We provide dealers and employees Learning Paths. They are based on Skill Levels reported in the Job Function Skills Assessment. Those Skill Levels: Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert allow us to recommend subject specific classes to allow the employee to improve their skill level. When used in conjunction with an annual performance review, dealerships are unlocking the potential of each individual employee and enhancing their company value to the workplace.

Never forget that talented people serving your customers are your heroes. Neither forget that the talent pool available to us is shrinking. The competition for these talented people is becoming fiercer that at any time I have seen. I don’t believe that this will become any easier, in fact I believe it will become more difficult. If you want to be able to attract, hire, develop and retain your workforce you must have a solid foundation, skill set inventories and career path opportunities, for each individual employee. You also need to be able to discuss with them their specific career path and what is necessary for them to be available for promotions and other opportunities in the company. Do you have these skill set inventories in place? Do you know the individual skills required for each job function? This is that solid foundation that is required. Do you have it in place? Should you?

The choice is yours. I would urge you to consider that the consequences are significant.

The time is now.

What Subject Specific Classes Can Do For You

What Subject Specific Classes Can Do For You

Moving from the role of an employee in an equipment dealership to being a consultant was an interesting transition. I started at Hewitt Equipment, the Caterpillar Dealer in Quebec, in March 1969 on a one-year contract. While with Hewitt I was given the opportunity to learn and grow my skills. I never forgot that. In 1978 I moved to Western Canada and worked for Finning Tractor and Equipment. In 1980 I moved back to Alberta where we started our consulting business. Through those twelve years I was given the opportunity to learn. I could never have done the work I did as a consultant without all of the training I received while working for those two Caterpillar dealerships. That opportunity for learning is what our subject specific classes can provide for you.

I don’t think I was very different then than the millennials and younger generation today. I needed to learn. I HAD to learn to progress in my work. I think the younger generations today are in exactly the same frame of mind as I was at their age. If I am not learning and progressing, I am wasting my time and should be looking for something else. I continue to be in awe at the knowledge of these younger generations. They have so much more knowledge than we Baby Boomers had at a similar age. I suppose that is a normal progression in society but it is one that needs to be respected. These younger generations are what we older generations have to rely on in our dotage.

In the consulting business I would be involved in identifying opportunities, negotiating solution options and implementing change. This invariably involved teaching people how to do things the “new” way. Before I started at Hewitt, I taught education at McGill University in Montreal. I absolutely love when I see the lights go on in a students’ eyes when they “Get” it. That really turns my crank. In the early 1990’s most of the OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and business associations (AED Associated Equipment Dealers) stopped doing any management training in the Parts and Service business. I thought I could fill that void.

I spent the summer of 1992 creating three “text” books for management in Parts, Service and Product Support Sales. In other words, I created the foundation from three management training classes. I set up the classes to take place over three days and split the learning into six distinct categories. Selling, Operations, Asset Management, Finance, Leadership, and Standards of Performance. This was the beginning of Quest, Learning Centers. In 2016 we incorporated Learning Without Scars and transitioned to the internet. We now offer the largest selection of internet-based employee development classes in the Industry. We have ninety-four subject specific classes available to the parts, service and selling aspects of Product Support.

Last week the focus of our blogs was on the assessments. This week we are moving to our classes. The foundation question for the assessments, is what is the department that you are interested in reviewing. We start the same way with the classes. You select a department and then we take you to the class options for that department. We will take you to the next step tomorrow.

The time is now.

For more information on our programs and what we can do for you, please visit our website at learningwithoutscars.com

What Would Winston Say Today?

What Would Winston Say Today?

Winston Churchill was a special individual. A unique individual. He always stood on principle even at a significant cost to himself personally. He saved the United Kingdom by the force of his will during World War II. Then he got rejected after the war in the first election. It wasn’t the first time he was rejected. But he never strayed from him principles. He was born in 1874 and passed in 1965.

Let’s review some of his quotations.

  • When I was younger, I made it a rule never to take a strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast. (Single Malt is perfect.)

For today consider the following.

  • The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
  • Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the others.
  • Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.
    • (Read about how the Scots viewed societal responsibilities)

Then getting closer to home.

  • You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all other possibilities.
  • An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
  • If you make 10,000 regulations you destroy all respect for the law.
  • To build may have to be the slow laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.
  • When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.
  • All of the empires of the future will be empires of the mind.
  • Every man should ask himself each day whether he is not too readily accepting negative solutions.
  • If we open a quarrel between the past and the present we shall find that we have lost the future.
  • Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.
  • The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent value of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
  • The malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous.
  • We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

The Time is Now.

The Evolution in Learning which is fast becoming a Revolution

The Evolution in Learning which is fast becoming a Revolution

From my grandmother who taught in a one room schoolhouse, to today we have seen a lot of change in education.

I want to go back a little further than that today. Socrates, our logo, and one of the fathers of teaching, distrusted learning from books. Students reading words would gain only shadows of the original authors’ insight and worse would not understand the difference. Of course, there were not many books back then.

In his book “The End of College, Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere” Kevin Carey puts forward some interesting statistics.

  • Less than 40% of students enrolling for the first time at a four-year college actually graduate in four years. Fewer than 66% within six years.
  • There are almost thirty-three million college dropouts in America over the age of twenty-five. Many with large student loans.
  • Fourteen percent of college graduates scored at the basic level of literacy. That makes them good enough to read grade school books.

Richard Arum in his book “Academically Adrift, Limited Learning on College Campuses” said, “American higher education is characterized by limited to no learning for a large proportion of students.”

The purpose of post high school learning according to educators was practical training, research, and a liberal arts education. In 1869 Harvard University hired thirty-five-year-old Charles William Eliot to lead the school. One of the many things he did was replace the mandatory curriculum with an elective system. This exploded the courses offered, increased the faculty dramatically and caused expansion of facilities to accommodate the increased student body. The rest is history.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, (NCES) part of the Department of Education, there were 4,726 degree-granting institutions at the peak in 2012. That consisted of 3,206 four-year institutions and 1,700 two-year institutions. The enrollment in these institutions peaked at just over 21,500,000 students in 2010.

The final straw was when the Federal Guaranteed Student Loans and tuitions exploded upward. The average debt is estimated to be $37,172 per student in 2016. The total outstanding student loans in the United States reached an all time high of $1.41 trillion in 2019. Amazing isn’t it?

Today as noted in previous blogs surveys indicate that nearly 75% of three hundred professionals prefer internet-based learning instead of classroom learning.

There is one other critical factor to consider. Teaching and Learning has made a radical and very dramatic shift. We have shifted from “passive” learning to “active” learning.

With passive learning the teacher is responsible for improving the skills of the student. With active learning it is the student that has the responsibility for their own learning.

Creative thinking, collaboration and interpersonal skills show great improvement with active learning methodologies. Businesses need to pay attention. One of the main challenges in the coming decades is going to be in the area of personnel. Attracting, Recruiting, Hiring, Developing, Appraising, and Retaining talent will be a huge challenge. I believe to the core of my being that with the right people in your business you will prevail in whatever it is that you want to do. Without them you will fail.

Companies must set up a proactive learning environment to motivate their workforce.

At Learning Without Scars, we start with JOB FUNCTION SKILLS ASSESSMENTS to determine the knowledge and skill categories of individuals. From the skill category of an individual we can customize their learning experience. We can direct them to the applicable subject specific classes available for their personal progression through the skill categories; Basic, Core, Advanced and Expert.

If individuals want to take a subject specific class(es) we can tailor that as well that into five specific areas; Customer Service, Selling, Operations, Finance and Leadership. The individual can select from an array of classes choices in each of those disciplines.

This is all aimed at allowing the individual employee to design their own learning path with JOB FUNCTION SKILL ASSESSMENTS in place to monitor their progress. This is our contribution to “active” learning where the individual employee takes control of their own destiny at work. They can grow their skills and in so doing increase the likelihood of earning more money and taking on more challenging and rewarding work assignments.

As R.C. Sproul, the founder of Ligonier Ministries, said “Our problem as people is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.” And if we want to go further with him, he says “If you’re not accountable in your life that means ultimately that your life doesn’t much count.”

You have a choice to make. To be on a path of constant exploration and learning or to do nothing. The choice is YOURS to make.

The Time is Now.

Who Is Your Customer?

In Business – Why are you here?

WHO is your CUSTOMER?

I had an interesting conversation with Caroline, my daughter, yesterday. Caroline is a teacher, and a very good one. Of course, I am going to say that but it is very true. She teaches in an extremely underprivileged community where a very large percentage of the student body who are English Learners. Further, as with the majority of the students in our region, they rely heavily on the food programs available through schools to be able to have a meal each day. With many agricultural jobs, we see very hard-working families who still need the extra resources. A difficult situation to say the least.

We were talking about education and how this current situation, with the country closed down, is going to affect the future of education. My granddaughter goes to University, it is closed and her classes are all being conducted virtually: even the labs, as she is in the sciences. My grandson is in High School and all his classes are done virtually. My daughter teaches High School and she teaches all day, every day, virtually. Imagine that, would you? They are all in school and no one leaves home.

This is what I have been talking about since the early 2000’s. From the Khan Academy, to every major University, to IT training, most everything that anyone wants to learn is available on line. AND for the most part it is free. At Learning Without Scars we have provided a learning platform for individuals who want to improve their skills and knowledge. Unfortunately, that is not everyone. Being optimistic I believe that more people, particularly the younger generations will change that and that they will constantly be striving to make themselves better. Of course, the world has to catch up. In order for online education to succeed, our students need to have access to a decent connection to the online world. That is still not true in many parts of our country today.

Which brings me to the customer and my conversation with Caroline. The end customer of education is society. School is the vehicle which every community uses to develop the people that will create the social and economic activity that will better society. BUT, the primary customer of the school systems, of education, is the student and their family. Too often that fact gets lost in the bureaucracies of the education community: the Federal Government, which does not have a role in education enumerated in the Constitution; the State Governments, who have primary responsibility, the School Boards with elected Administrators, many of whom have never taught in a classroom in their lives, municipal governments, who receive the taxes to pay for schools and on and on. Who is thinking about the customer here? Of course, it is the teacher. But who supports that teacher?

Now look at your business. WHO is YOUR customer? That should be a very easy question to answer. I would like you to think about that for when we come out of this economic shutdown. WHO is YOUR customer? Is it the person coming in to order parts? Is it the person who calls to schedule maintenance or a repair on a machine? WHO is it? In many of these cases it is an employee of a business who uses equipment. But one more time please – WHO is the CUSTOMER?

I am hopeful that every distributor and dealer will come to a different conclusion than what has been true the past three to four decades. I am hopeful that they will begin to operate in a radically different manner than they have recently. I am hopeful that the employees will be given more and better tools to serve the machine owners. But then again, I am an optimistic person.

Things won’t be any different coming out of this economic shutdown unless we make them different. And that means some serious thinking about WHO that CUSTOMER really is that you are serving.

The Time is Now.

The Other Side

The Other Side

We have learned and we need to act. We need strong positive leadership now more than ever: clarity of message, cascading and direct communication, basic management methods, understanding, acceptance and commitment.

There is very little we can control at this point. That is creating problems for everyone. Fear is everywhere. People don’t respond well to fear. We have to provide confident leadership. This too will pass.

The Time is Now.

Competence and Recognition

Competence and Recognition

With so many learning opportunities available over the internet and very few of these classes earning University or Colleges credits directly many institutions have devised a method to recognize individual student competencies.

They are using badges.

While with our accreditation by IACET we will be able to offer Continuous Education Units, which lead to college and technical school credits, we fell it is necessary and important to recognize specific skills within our learning programs.

We have identified five skill sets that need further recognition. They are Sales, Finance, Operations, Leadership and Customer Service. We are using the same approach as was used to develop our Skills Assessments. We are selecting 60 questions from the 2,400 questions used in our Skills Assessments and selecting them according to their relevance to the skill sets listed above. We will offer Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze Skill Set Badges.

Each learner then will be able to follow classes related to their job function, perform a skills assessment related to that same job as well as be able to be recognized as to their individual level of competence on specific skills sets.

This will be a first in our Industry. We are proud of this accomplishment and hat it will mean to our hardworking heroes in the parts, service and product support sales world.

The Time is Now.

 

The Virtual Classroom Programs

Virtual Classroom – The VCR Programs

For those of you following this blog or students of our classes, you are well aware of our offerings. The LOD – Learning On Demand which is a series of subject specific classes. These are the building blocks for all of our learning programs. Then there is the job specific series of classes, the PSP Planned Specific Programs. Next is the leadership series within the PLP Planned Learning Programs. Finally, we come to the Virtual Classroom Programs the VCR’s.

We announced last year that the VCR programs would be kicked off in 2020. Well here we are. In April we will be delivering on our promise and put the VCR programs into the market.

Each VCR consists of five subject classes. There are three levels of these programs. This is for up and coming employees, people who can offer more than the traditional employee. The “fast track” employees. Their learning is rounded out with a PLP on Final Staging. Watch our short video below explaining this exciting program.

The Time is now.

 

 

Continual Individual Employee Development

Continual Individual Employee Development

One of the challenges we face as a society today, which is in my opinion the most daunting of all, is the ability that we have, as employers, to find, attract, hire and retain talented employees.

As an employee in this environment there are also serious challenges. The world is changing at a rate that is unprecedented. When I was in University, I took a class in number theory as part of my major in mathematics and physics. That was my first year. At the same time, in California, children in grade school were being taught the same theory. It was obvious then that I had a head start of roughly ten years.

In the STEM learning programs in the schools today changes are even more rapid. With Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Realties, 5G networks, data streaming and data analytics, autonomous transportation, and the like the younger generations today are confronted with the truth that their learning, their formal schooling, is not going to last through their lifetime like it has been so far.

The need for each individual to continue to learn, and grow, and read, is paramount. Further we will need to have a second cycle through “schools.” This is leading to more “internet based” learning programs. There will be many changes to deal with in business. This is the truth of this “New Reality.”

Each individual employee’s ability to adapt and overcome challenges will become more critical than at any time in history. Welcome to the new year, 2020, and even more importantly welcome to the new decade.

The Time is Now

 

What Is Your Why?

What Is Your Why?

Why do we do what we do?

This is a question that is often asked of classroom teachers. I disagree with the motivation behind what we do being something we deliberately overlook. In every career, it is important to understand YOUR why.

We can all say what we do, we can teach someone how we do it. But the why is always unique. Yes, we all want to make a living, so of course that is a “why” behind what we do. That only scratches the surface of who we are to our companies and who we are to our customers and who we are to our coworkers. What is your why?

This is a question I can’t answer for you. I can only answer what my own why is. It’s a pretty simple answer, really. YOU are my why. Even though our format is one of online learning now, my days of classroom teaching still drive what we do here at Learning Without Scars. Contributing to someone’s improvement and understanding is the reason I do what I do. Every student, every manager, every individual who comes through our virtual doors is a student. Helping students to succeed is the best why of all.

I encourage you to take a look around today as you are at work. Pay attention to your interactions and your processes throughout the day. I challenge you to answer the question: what is YOUR why?

The time is now.