One of the hottest debates these days is how to create more jobs, and for good reason. But ironically, it can often be difficult to fill the job openings a company actually has because they require a very specific set of skills and knowledge that can be hard to come by.
Workers looking for jobs will fret that they can't get the skills and experience needed if no one will give them a chance to develop those skills. That's a fair assessment. But isn't that the job of the educational system, to make sure those people are prepared?
The educators of the world will of course argue that is exactly what they do. So, where's the disconnect?
Maybe those us of in business haven't taken enough time to connect with educators to help them understand what exactly we do and what we need. We should be best friends, actively sharing what will help everyone be more successful in the long run.
Businesses need to take an active role in partnering with the local educational community, from secondary schools to institutions of higher learning, to ensure those entering or returning to the workforce are prepared with the right skills and capabilities needed by business today. It takes time and effort, and it can be frustrating. But, if we as business leaders don't invest in what we need, we really shouldn't complain that we can't find skilled workers.
Let me tell you about one program we do: The Avnet Inc. (NYSE: AVT) Tech Games are a mini tech decathlon we have held for seven years for Arizona-based college students. It's designed specifically to help educators and students clearly understand what skills businesses are looking for, while giving them a taste of what that's like. We've had some great success in partnering with professors who have changed their curriculum based on their involvement with the Avnet Tech Games. In fact, we actually have a training course on how they can meet the sponsor leaders from CIOs, CFOs, VP of sales and CEOs like Avnet's Rick Hamada.
This letter to Bruce Gorshe, one of Avnet's game organizers, from John Faulkner, a participant and competitor in the games, really sums up the value he received:
Thank you Bruce! My current employer (Apollo Group, Inc.) mentioned that my continued pursuit for activities such as the Avnet Tech Games were one of their main interests in me as an employee. The Avnet Tech Games have been one of the most fun and challenging events I have ever taken part in (after winning the Green Data center two times in a row, and the Virtual Game, HP Playbook Challenge).
I would absolutely love to share my experience within the Tech Games and the value it has had both within my academic and professional success throughout college. I will even pass on to my fellow teammates of the previous years to reach out to you and share their experience from the previous challenges.
It's great knowing that John was successful in getting a job in part because of his participation in events like the Avnet Tech Games. We have hired a few young people from the games as well, which is very cool. It sure has helped enhance our brand in the community, too.
For Arizona college students looking for a leg up in the hiring process, the Avnet Tech Games are underway, and you can register now.
Educators and tech companies who want to get involved can contact Teri Radosevich, VP of Community Relations for Avnet, at (480) 643-7688. Thanks to my teammates who helped me with this post, especially Michelle Gorel.