Are you telling me you’re not my flight instructor?

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Dr. David DeLong started off the session on "Closing the Skills Gap: Innovative Talent Solutions for a Changing Workforce" with an attention-grabbing example about making assumptions. "Are you telling me you’re not my flight instructor?" was the question the pilot asked the sole passenger, a news photographer who had jumped into the plane and told him to take off. They were already up in the air and flying toward a wildfire.

This was just one of many questions posed during the session, all questions that addressed interesting topics and encouraged attendees to think. DeLong said, "My goal is to get you to do something differently when you leave this room."

In addition to multiple examples and ideas, DeLong shared six critical success factors, touched on some specific ideas to address common problems, and asked this question: "How are we going to shape the jobs to the talent?" He said the answer might be "instead of demanding that the people match the jobs, tweak the job descriptions to match the people we have." He also discussed the forces that are creating an industry skills gap: aging workforce, lack of pipeline to train new workers, amount of skills needed to work with new technologies, lack of young talent interest, millennials learning differently, and cherry-picking talent. Then, the inevitable: "We end up stealing (good employees) from each other."

And to wrap it up? An answer to this question: "What if we don’t change at all and something magical happens?" The answer: That’s not going to happen. "You need to start with where you are going to be 3-5 years from now," said DeLong, then integrate the three Rs: Retirement. Recruiting. Retention.


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