According to a report from a meeting last June of The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management, a major conclusion of these stakeholders is:

The most vital course of action currently needed on workforce readiness is for business, education and community groups to work together toward developing a shared sense of responsibility.

Much easier said than done! In addition to my day job, consulting on human performance improvement, I’m an elected trustee of Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In this role, I’m involved in many efforts to bring together the nonprofit, education, government, and business sectors for the good of the community. My experience is that when these sectors come together the hidden agenda is usually, “What are you going to do for me?” not “What are we all going to do together to achieve workforce readiness?” Yes, of course, these players need a “shared sense of responsibility”, but they also need a shared goal. By this I mean a common purpose that drives all of them in the same direction and for which they need each other. “A shared sense of responsibility” is not this goal. It’s nice to have, but what is really needed is a target that all stakeholders can observe and measure and know when it’s been reached. For example: all able bodied citizens of this community will have competency in teamwork, civic involvement, professionalism, communication, and analytical thinking by the time they are 25 years old. Now, that’s a goal! It doesn’t prescribe what each stakeholder should do, but it does put a stake in the ground. And if the community can attach some rewards to achieving this goal, all the better.

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