5 Things to Learn from 2017

2017 has been a year of innovation, developments and scandals but what can we learn from this year and avoid doing next year?

2017 has been a whirlwind year in the technology sector across the UK and around the rest of the world. Cyber-attacks left, right and centre the implementation of Brexit on the horizon, as well as deciding what the best way forward for individual organisations is as technology competition heats up.

Though there have been unplanned incidents, from the destruction caused by WannaCry to the widening skills gap, there are many things we should all learn from 2017.

In order to not make the same mistakes next year, CBR has devised a list of what you should have learnt from the last year and take on board into 2018.

Click here to read April Slattery’s list of 5 things to learn from 2017 published on the Computer Business Review website. 


Op-Ed: Technical schools offer strong alternative to 4-year degree

High school graduates heading off to a four-year university have a good idea what the next several years will hold, but for those interested in a different kind of career, the path may not be so clear. For students who are mechanically minded and like hands-on learning, a quality technical education could make the difference between a winding path that leads to uncertainty or being on the road to rewarding, long-term careers that help to fill the nation’s skills gap.

Commonly, young adults are steered away from vocational careers based on faulty perceptions about what it means to work in a skilled trade. A recent analysis of the federal College Scorecard data and U.S. labor market trends finds that students who get an industry-aligned, quality post-secondary technical education are earning more, on average, after 10 years than their peers from some of the nation’s liberal arts colleges and two-year community colleges.

Click here to read Darrin Brust’s complete opinion piece published on the Biz Journals website. 

Apprenticeships: Opportunities for Experiential Learning in the Workplace

In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, November 13-19, 2017, President Trump proclaimed, “We recognize the important role apprenticeships play in unleashing the American workforce. Americans are known for our remarkable productivity, industriousness, and innovative thinking. By pairing these valued traits with the right training, our nation can renew one of our greatest assets—the American worker.” As talent development professionals, we can understand why apprenticeships offer a fantastic opportunity for experiential learning in the workplace.

Click here to read Nancy Harvin’s and Cristina Masucci’s complete article published on the Associate for Talent Development website. 

8 New Year’s resolutions that aren’t about weight loss

With only a few weeks to go before the new year, you’ve probably been seeing a lot of dieting ads all over the place, and the hashtag “#NewYearNewMe” is coming back with a vengeance. Of course getting (and staying) healthy is important, but if the idea of trying to force a 20 lb. weight loss on yourself is more daunting than inspiring, it’s important to remember that there’s a lot you can do to self-improve that doesn’t include weight loss. Here are some ways you can make 2018 one of your most accomplished years yet.

Click here to read Chelsea Frisbie’s New Year’s resolutions posted on WLWT 5 News website.


With the holiday season upon us, consumers are hard at work finding the very best gifts for loved ones. An uptick in shopping and gifts, of course, will mean an uptick in returns as well. In fact, while the national return rate is 11.3%, the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that holiday shopping will effect a 13% return rate for the 2017-2018 season.


Click here to review other 2017 Holiday Spending Infographics from Optoro.  

West Philly High preps students for careers through CTE programs

Career and technical education (CTE) programs, cutting-edge technology, student leadership and supportive teachers and staff are all elements at the heart of the curriculum at West Philadelphia High School.

“West Philly High is a good school. I really like the CTE programs,” said junior Tahje Faruqi. “I’ve always been interested in computers and videos, so the computer systems networking program was the best fit for me. I’ve learned a lot since being in the program. I’m gaining more knowledge of how the computer works and how to operate and create different operating systems.”

West Philly High offers its students a variety of CTE programs including digital media production, architectural drafting and design, and computer systems networking. Upon the completion of the program, students can earn certifications that are accepted in the professional world.

 “We have been discussing with our advisory board members for the past couple of years about developing a space for the students to come in and have a think tank,” said career awareness specialist Diana Rodriguez. “We wanted to have a place within the school building that they can just let their innovative juices flow and let their minds create. We have a partnership with the Comcast Corporation so now our students are able to have full internships with the organization.

“West Philly High was also just recognized by the State Department of Education for our CTE programs,” she added. “We have the most nontraditional students in CTE programs, so the State Department of Education wanted to know from us what our best practices were to accomplish this. We’re just trying to give our students as many opportunities to create, think freely and be innovative through our CTE programs. Our hope is that what they learn here they will be able to transfer it into their life and career while changing the world and their community in the process.”

Click here to read Chanel Hill’s complete article posted on The Philadelphia Tribune.

Sector Partnerships + Career Pathways = A Healthy Local Economy

There’s a lot of jargon in education … just like there’s jargon in every industry. Because education is vitally important to nearly every industry (e.g. healthcare, manufacturing, utilities, finance, communications, agriculture and more), I’d like to review some of the current lingo and talk about what it really means for our local communities.

Specifically, let’s examine sector partnerships, skilled workforce, skills gaps, advanced manufacturing, and career pathways.

Sector Partnerships involve getting specific industry representatives sitting around the same table to focus on their own workforce needs. For the last several years, Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD) has heard local employers talk about the lack of a skilled workforce. Very simply, this means the employers either have or anticipate having jobs that require specific skills, and there are not enough skilled workers in the local workforce to fill those positions. When there are people who need jobs but don’t have the skills or training required, that’s known as a skills gap.

Click here to read Sandy Supianoski’s entire article published on the Times-Republican website.

Can Robots Bridge the Skills Gap?

On Dec. 12, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3; Ann Arbor, Mich.) released a report on automation technology sales in North America for the first nine months of 2017, noting that the industry was “shattering” records in sales of robotics, machine vision, motion control, and motor technologies.

Two days later on Dec. 14, the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) hosted a webinar—Future Growth Opportunities and the Current State of the U.S. Plastics Industry—breaking down the sector’s threats and opportunities, among other topics. PLASTICS President and CEO Bill Carteaux opened the webinar and stated directly at the end of his comments that, “The skills gap threatens continued growth in our industry and all U.S. manufacturing.”

During a Q&A, PLASTICS Chief Economist Perc Pineda expanded on the skills gap challenge.

I think the U.S. manufacturing sector is at crossroads,” Pineda explained, noting that companies PLASTICS speaks with say they cannot “find enough people to work—people who are actually qualified—not just for mundane jobs, but people who have skills.”

Click here to read Tony Deligio’s article published on the Plastics Technology website.  

As students near graduation, career and technical education provides a boost

For the past decade or so, every American president has sought to use career and technical education – or CTE – as a way to boost achievement and prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.

When the Bush administration signed into law the existing federal CTE policy in 2006, the goal was to increase “focus on the academic achievement of career and technical education students.”

Under the Obama administration, career and technical education was seen as a way to “prepare all students, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances, for further education and cutting-edge careers.”

The current administration has taken the same stance – with the president stating in April that “vocational education is the way of the future.”

Academic research shows that taking CTE classes can benefit students by improving their odds of graduation, boosting their chances of participating in advanced math and science coursework, and increasing their earnings immediately after high school.

However, it’s not just CTE implemented in any old way that has proven beneficial. Rather, as a current education policy Ph.D. student who focuses on college and career readiness, I have discovered that the timing of CTE matters when it comes to high school completion and dropout prevention.

This conclusion is based on a research study that associate professor and education researcher Michael Gottfried and I conducted this past year, examining the impact that CTE has during different years in high school.

Click here to read Jay Stratte Plasman’s complete article published on The Conversation website. 

Kinexus gets $1.2M grant

State funding to benefit 36 businesses, 1,000+ workers

Kinexus announced Wednesday it secured a $1.2 million grant from the state to help train Southwest Michigan’s work force. The Benton Harbor-based nonprofit organization received money from the Skilled Trades Training Fund to help 36 businesses and employers through training grants. The money will supplement the costs for returning and new workers to upgrade their skills in machining, mold making, computer programming, welding and health care-related trainings.

“The Michigan Skilled Trade Training grant is a critical tool for building a skilled work force in industries that drive our state and local economy,” Kinexus CEO Todd Gustafson said in a news release. “This grant will help 36 local employers up skill 1,061 people, helping businesses grow and prosper in Southwest Michigan.”


Kinexus works with businesses and their staffs while promoting economic vitality in Southwest Michigan. The majority of the businesses that will benefit from the grant are manufacturers.

Click here to read Tony Wittkowski’s complete article published on the Herald Palladium website. 

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