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Business can help teachers prepare America's future workforce

Business can help teachers prepare America's future workforce

Ginni Rometty never intended to run one of the world's largest and most important technology companies. But the former IBM CEO was clearly the right person for the job. Her book is a Wall Street Journal bestseller The Power of Good: Driving Positive Change in Our Lives, Our Work, and Our World She offers sharp insights into not only how she approached her leadership, but also into all the reasons that supported her work at IBM, its employees, and society at large.

Her book, which consists in part of “memoirs, leadership lessons, and big ideas about how we can all make meaningful change,” chronicles her rise up the corporate ladder—which she recounts with openness, ease, and honesty. He also talks about the idea behind its title – “Good Power” – which is to reimagine power as a way to drive positive change “for ourselves, for organizations, and for the many, not just the few.”

Rometty has been a leading voice in creating new and innovative career paths – moving the conversation right towards skills and competencies and away from… Seat time and minimum duration of four years. She led the Pathways to Technology, or P-TECH, program that helps students in low-income communities earn a high school diploma and two-year associate's degree in STEM fields. She called on employers to play a greater role in supporting and strengthening our educational system and its students.

I had the opportunity to discuss her book, her life, and what she sees on the horizon and beyond for our economy and education system.

Vicki Phillips: First, tell us a little about your life and upbringing? What was your experience like in K-12 and college?

Ginni Rometty: I was sixteen when my father abandoned my mother, me and my three younger siblings, leaving us without money to pay for our house or basics like food. My mother had no education beyond high school. She was smart, but she didn't have the skills that could earn her more than an hourly wage. She was on her own to support us.

Fortunately, she comes from a legacy of women of heart who have also suffered and survived. Her grandmother lost her daughter and husband, and her mother, my grandmother, was widowed twice. Both women spent most of their lives working hard to support themselves and their families, my great-grandmother cleaning office buildings for decades, and my great-grandmother running a small lamp shop. My mother followed in their footsteps following my father's passing, working multiple jobs and attending classes at a community college until she had the right skills to land a well-paying office job.

The strength I observed in these three women gave me the desire and courage to be independent, and the belief that there is always a way forward after tragedy. I viewed education and career as paths that would help me advance in life, and in high school and college I had teachers who believed in me and helped me see that knowledge was another tool to help me get through crises and solve problems.

vice president: Your book Good strength Outlines the five principles of good power. Can you discuss it a little?

Genetic resources: As I reflected on my past, five themes emerged as essential to creating positive change in my life and work. I refer to them as the “how to” of good power, because each principle offers a way to exert our influence in any situation.

  • The first principle too Being of servicewhich is the intention to make someone or something better by meeting their needs, which in turn allows us to meet our own needs.
  • second, building faith, It is about inspiring people rather than forcing them to willingly embrace change and co-create it. It's about using our influence versus our power to convince others to embrace a new reality.
  • The third principle also Know what needs to change, and what needs to continue. Whether you're reinventing your career or your company, change requires bold creativity and tough choices about what aspects of the status quo to preserve, and what to abandon. This principle is about bringing critical thinking to any situation.
  • The fourth principle I call Good technology guidance. Even if we don't work in technology, we use technology to do our jobs. This principle asks us to take responsibility for the technology we use or create.
  • The fifth principle as well Be flexible, Which is about maintaining conviction in ourselves and our mission, and using relationships and the right attitude to rise above conflict.

vice president: String Good strength Clearly, training and on-the-job learning have played a huge role in your development and rise to a leadership position. In what ways has this influenced your view on skills-based qualifications, the creation of SkillsFirst work, and the need to create more career-related learning?

Genetic resources: First, my mother's experience showed me a basic truth: many people don't lack the ability to get good jobs, they just lack the ability to get to those jobs. They are smart and hardworking, and just need training and education, but not necessarily a traditional four-year college. Second, my career path was based on interning with people I could learn from. I always found a mentor, and I knew that the skills I needed for my next job could be learned in my current job, through observation and curiosity.

Apprenticeships, whether formal or informal, are one way to increase access to good jobs for millions of people. Given the pace of change in business and technology, apprenticeships are a way to keep up with the pace and move into new jobs efficiently. I am a firm believer that skills matter more than just educational qualifications.

vice president: We see in the education systems of Switzerland and Singapore, and in some parts of the United States, strong leadership from the business community in the education system. your business with One out of ten And B-Tech Before that parallels this kind of close connection between the world of business and public education. How can business move forward? How can our public education system make partnering with the business community easier and more effective?

Genetic resources: I couldn't agree more that education and business should not be mutually exclusive. Neither entity can meet the economic needs of our country alone, and if those economic needs are not met—if enough people do not have jobs to support themselves and their families—our capitalist democracy is at risk. There are many opportunities for teachers and employers to serve each other and the nation. Companies can help prepare America's workforce for the future.

About ten years ago, IBM began to take a more proactive role in creating the talent pools we needed when we couldn't find qualified candidates for hundreds of open technology jobs. What started as a partnership with a Brooklyn high school to train students in digital skills has evolved into P-Tech, a six-year program in multiple states and more than 20 countries that combines high school and college courses so students graduate with the knowledge and skills employers need, as well as… Accessibility to jobs. In this context, companies often overlook community colleges as recruiting partners.

I advise employers to partner with local institutions for two years to ensure that the school's curriculum reflects regional employment needs. For educators, what is needed is a change in mindset that sees students and employers as customers of the education they provide. America wins when academia and businesses find ethical and innovative ways to collaborate through teaching, mentoring, training, and hiring.

vice president: Tony Bird's story Good strength It really shows how powerful lifelong learning is for individuals. Talk to me a little about his story and your perspective on lifelong learning. How can it help not only individuals, but society and the wider economy?

Genetic resources: I share Tony's story in my book because it's really an example of how we can provide access to good jobs to more people through pathways like apprenticeships. Tony was a popular barista at a coffee shop in one of IBM's office buildings. He didn't go to college after high school, and eventually he had two children and needed a higher-paying job.

It was impossible for him to balance community college classes with his work schedule, so he applied for a full-time, paid internship program at IBM. He completed over 200 hours of coursework and 2,000 hours of work before graduating to become a software engineer.

It's a great example of the power of rethinking how and when we educate ourselves and others. Lifelong learning is also inevitable. I have no doubt that Tony and millions of others in the workforce will find themselves taking classes and learning over and over again to advance their careers.

vice president: You discuss the need for “systems thinking” to transform our education system to fit the new economy, saying that we need to be honest about what no longer works in educational institutions and corporate practices. Can you talk a little bit about what you see as successful as well as some of the things you think we need to change first?

Genetic resources: The biggest thing that must change is the “college or fail” mentality that has become ingrained in the American psyche. This “degree bias” assumes that a traditional four-year education is required to earn a good lifelong living, or is a requirement for most jobs. While this may have been more true years ago, the development of the tech economy and shrinking middle-income jobs has created entry-level jobs that do not require a bachelor's or bachelor's degree to be successful.

What's more, companies are changing so rapidly that the skills people will need in the future are not even offered at traditional colleges today, so re-educating people, even those with four-year degrees, is inevitable. Even if you have a degree, expect to return to the classroom, in one form or another. And if you're an employer, stop insisting that everyone you interview for a job must have a four-year college degree. Again, skills matter more than credentials.

vice president: At the conclusion of the book, I include a beautiful handwritten note that says, in short, it's not just what we achieve that matters; how We make it happen. As you continue on your leadership journey, what are the key “ways” to that leadership that you hope to carry with you?

Genetic resources: In addition to the Five Principles, there are three simple “ways” to achieving meaningful change:

First, embrace tension, because any important project will involve opposing forces. Instead of ignoring conflict, expect problem solving and even some pain to be part of the process.

Second, celebrate progress. Change is complicated and takes time, so step back and acknowledge the victories you've achieved along the way rather than arriving at a goal and immediately striving for the next one. Your team will thank you for taking a breath to honor the work and accomplishments of others.

And third, whatever you do, do it with respect for yourself and others.

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