About Life Long Learning 

If you were an employee on Henry Ford’s assembly line in Detroit in the 1920s, you received a high degree of training and preparation before you ever set foot in the factory. You learned what your role was, and were given all the tools you needed to accomplish your job from Day One. From then on, your role never changed—you did your part to move a product forward along the assembly line, from the day you began until the day you retired, 40 or 50 years later.

Since those days, the business world has transformed — everything that can be automated has been automated. The fourth industrial revolution is upon us, with the forces of AI, robotics, and 3D printing disrupting the status quo and pushing outdated processes into oblivion. The Ford factory workers’ jobs have largely been turned over to machines.

But the workforce training process hasn’t kept up with the pace of change.

The education that the workforce received was designed in the previous industrial age: front-loaded for first 20 years, and expected to apply to their jobs for the next 40 to 50 years. Today, we are in the knowledge economy, and there is new knowledge we are required to learn and apply daily. How can we future-proof our workforces to help them prepare for the rapid pace of business transformation?

Source: In a knowledge economy corporate learning is necessary to survive | TechCrunch

Like many things in the world today our education system needs a major overhaul. To assume that education stops after the first twenty years or so just doesn’t jive with our now ever-changing world. Education is still in the mode aligned with getting a good “factory” job out of high school and then settling down into a comfortable middle class life.  That philosophy might have worked fifty years ago but not now.

Despite what many Trump supporters believe living today requires us to be in the constant learning mode. One good thing about all of this is that opportunities for the most part exist for those willing to put in the effort to accomplish them.

But even discussing the good times of the past seems out of kilter to me. It seems that almost everyone around today have much more than I did growing up in the 1950s and 60s. Back then it was rare to see more than one car in a household and especially for teenager to have his own car. The student parking area in my high school was about twenty feet wide as almost all of us took the bus to school. Our clothes comfortably fit in the three feet wide or narrower closets of that era. Fresh fruits and vegetables were limited by season. And coffee came in only two varieties and cost a dime a cup. We simply didn’t tear out totally functional kitchens because they were out of style.

Getting back to education issues, even though I worked for the same company for thirty years I basically had three quite different occupations that required a much different knowledge base. Except for the first one I equipped myself with the necessary tools to do the job through self-learning. I kept my skills up with the times.

Yes, accomplishments might require more personal work today than they did in the past but if you are willing to do the work they are there for you.

Being Of Value??

TL Banner   Sometimes I struggle with understanding why there are apparently so many people who complain so much about our economy. I see where personal income in the last year showed the biggest improvement in decades and the unemployment rate is at 4.9% which is the lowest in forty years.  So, why is there so much dissatisfaction around?

Being retired for 16+ years now I admit that I don’t know much about the current job market other than what I read. I know that full lifetime employment is pretty much a thing of the past for many and that the average person will change jobs seven times during their working life. I also know that except for very small businesses assembly line jobs have disappeared. Without those mind-numbing jobs people right out of high school have trouble finding any form of lucrative employment.

Being without some schooling beyond high school means a lifetime of minimum wage and often short term employment. One of the biggest obstacles to getting that education, especially among the lower middle class and below, is the every increasing costs of continuing education. I am hopeful, thanks to Bernie Sanders that when Hillary is president she will try do what is necessary to make educational opportunities affordable to all. That is if the GOP don’t fight it tooth and nail as they have in the past. I know… I am a dreamer..

Then there is another segment of our society for whatever reason have not kept up with the times by upgrading their employment skills. They see the world moving beyond them. Some in this mode go into the permanent  complain mode. I think these are the real base for the Trump campaign. How many of them there are we will soon know.

Now I want to change gears a little in order to try to understand why so many are so angry at our current systems. In order to do that I want to draw a link between these folks and my personal experiences with being retired and the process that led up to where I am at today. Before I retired I was often recognized at a valuable member of a large engineering organization. I provided software tools, they are called apps nowadays, to hundreds of design engineers and was sought out for my knowledge and advice. Then I abruptly retired when a Hong Kong business bought out our division and quickly began to dissemble it.

2016-10-24_08-43-45.pngI went from “the valuable member” to the opposite in a flash. The only person who I had any amount of contact with in those early retirement years that was my wife and she didn’t recognize my skills as being particularly valuable to her. I immediately lost value. I went into a state of depression.  I was in the “poor me” mode to some degree for more than three years. I just didn’t see that I was doing more than sucking air. Is this where so many Trump supporter reside?  I can only guess.

It took a while but I finally found a place outside the home that seemed to value my life and that was volunteering in a local soup kitchen/shelter.  I spent the next eleven years there. I was valuable once again.

2016-10-24_08-47-31.pngI can see the parallels between this and the people currently complaining about their life situations. They just want to feel they have value. They want someone to pay attention to them.  They feel unappreciated. Many in this mode, need to get off their “Poor me” attitudes and do something about it. If you want to feel valuable you must “do” something valuable and that takes work. There are no simple solutions to it… or most other things in life…

That is the way I see it….

When Robots Make Cars….

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I know that robots have taken over many of the repetitive tasks from us humans. Many see that as stripping jobs away from those who don’t care to otherwise be ready for today’s workforce.  The mind-numbing jobs are being taken over my mindless robots and that is as it should be. Let’s take auto manufacturing as an example:

  • Robots don’t make mistakes... They do the same thing over and over again because that is all they are programmed to do.
  • Robots don’t know Monday from Friday…. They don’t take their eye off the task at hand because they are still remembering the weekend or are anticipating the coming one.
  • Robots can do the same thing over and over with the same accuracy…. Not only do they not make mistakes but they do what they are programmed to do with extreme accuracy. They simply don’t have other distractions on their minds.

Let’s face it, compared to today’s cars, the cars of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s were junk. The fit and finish were terrible and the lemons made because of absent minded defects were very troublesome to those who were unfortunate enough to get them. Humans just never did a good job of making cars.

So where does that leave us humans? For those unprepared for anything else but mindless  assembly line work it leaves them with flipping hamburgers or other low skilled work  that were once meant as entry type jobs. But for those willing to put in the effort to equip themselves with the necessary skills it leaves them with opportunity. Many young people today are taking that opportunity but many are not. Some think they are not smart enough to learn, some just can’t afford it. The later needs our help but then again so does the former.

We need to make higher education more affordable, if not free, for anyone who wants to improve themselves.  Free high school education has been the norm now for many decades and now its time to kick that up a notch to at least two years of free trade school or college.

For those who don’t think they are smart enough we need to do a better job of encouraging them. We need to make learning as important to them as high school sports are now.  Part of that is a teacher thing but the biggest share belongs to the parents.

 

3 In 5 Americans Have No More That A High School Education

2016-01-24_14-58-07.pngThe four most educated countries — Korea, Japan, Canada and Russia — report that more than 50 percent of their young people have a degree beyond high school, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. By contrast, young adults in the U.S. are barely any more educated than older adults: About 40 percent of both groups have an associate, bachelor’s or advanced degree.

SOURCE: Study: 2 In 5 Americans Earning Degrees After High School : The Two-Way : NPR.

In 2012, 39.4 percent of Americans between 25 and 64 had at least a two-year college degree. That was up from 38.7 percent in 2011, the largest single year gain since 2008….

Who gets a college degree is still starkly divided by race – 27.6 percent of blacks, 23.4 percent of Native Americans and 19.8 percent of Latinos hold at least a two-year degree, compared to 43.9 percent of whites and 59.4 percent of Asians.  There are signs this gap could narrow in the future. The percent of black and Latino enrolling college saw big increases between 2011 and 2012. In 2012, 67.1 percent of recent black high school grads enrolled in college, compared to 62 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, college enrollment for recent Latino high school grads went from 59.7 to 66.6 percent.

With more Americans headed to college, the findings of a new Gallup poll may be unsurprising. Paying for college expenses is the most common financial challenge facing those between the ages of 18 and 49.

SOURCE: Percentage of Americans with college degrees rises, paying for degrees tops financial challenges | PBS NewsHour.

It surprised me to see Russia as having a higher percentage of young people with degrees than the U.S. But then I guess that is probably due to my ignorant view of that country. We in the U.S. have been lead to believe that everyone in Russia is poor, uneducated, and starving due to lack of opportunities in a communist system.  To see that they are actually more educated then we are is a cultural shock but not an unpleasant one at least to me. I need to spend some serious time learning more about Russia instead of just believing what is fed to me by others.

The point of this post is why is it that 40% of Americans have only a high school education in the 21st century where robots are replacing all repetitive tasks? I personally think the following are a few possible reasons:

  1. Its just too expensive for most to go to college or even trade schools for that matter.
  2. Many teachers don’t instill the desire to learn in their students at an early enough age.
  3. Parents are not doing enough to promote lifelong learning in the home.
  4. Our country is geared more to sports/competition than to education/learning.
  5. Kids in the U.S. have in entitlement mindset.
  6. U.S. education is more about memorizing than learning how to think.
  7. Not enough kids have mentors/examples in their lives.

I don’t have enough space here to expand on these things so I will just say that all of them are in need of improvement. Instead of trying to find the “silver bullet solution we should be tackling each of the multiple underlying causes.  I hope someday that we can manage to put the solution to these things on a high priority that they deserve.