Kurt Wallace: This is Kurt Wallace and our guest today on Rare is Nicholas Wyman CEO at Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation. He is the author of the new book Job U: Developing the Skills Companies Actually Need. Nicholas, thanks for being with us today on Rare.
Nicholas Wyman: Fantastic, great to be here.
Kurt Wallace: Nicholas, your career has been a long one helping people close the gap between education and careers. What does that mean?
Nicholas Wyman: Well, I think that it really gets to the heart of the skills gap. I describe this as people without jobs and jobs without people. And, what we find yourself in across the US is this massive labor market mismatch. So, wave got our education systems training people for careers and jobs and pathways that actually don’t exist. While on the other hand we’ve got employers saying we can’t teach the skills to do the job.
Kurt Wallace: Well, today’s marketplace is different from the past. People used to be told to get a college education and then there would be a great job waiting for you and a great career waiting for you once you graduate.
Nicholas Wyman: Well, I think this is definitely the situation in days gone by. But with globalization and technological change and the fact that at the end of 2014 China actually took over as the worlds largest economy.
So, I think what that means is that the way people are doing business — and whether that means you got a small, medium or even a large business — whether you’re operating nationally or even internationally, it means that types of skills that you need in your business are actually changing. And, that’s of course going to have massive ramifications and implications on the job market.
So, what I’m seeing is companies who are really saying “well, we need not only strong academics we actually need real workplace skills”. And I think that’s where the gap lies and I think many unfortunately, many four year college programs of course are very strong on the academics but they’re not meeting up to the needs of strong workplace skills that employees need.
Kurt Wallace: So, in the book you talk about these opportunities that they can’t be found inside the walls of traditional classrooms, where can they be found?
Nicholas Wyman: Well, I’m suggesting follow my own path. Which I started off with apprentice in culinary arts and that was a great opportunity to earn and learn. And, I learned my trade through hands on transfer by a skilled professional. But, that certainly doesn’t stop you from going on to higher education. We can talk about that in a moment.
There’s all sorts of opportunities in professional certification. So, this is certainly not just talking about plumbing, electrical and those types of people once called blue collar careers. I’m talking about fields like bioscience, aviation and even medical technology. And of course, being hotly debated in the US at the moment is the associates degrees and linking that to the president’s announcement and his intent to introduce free community college.
So, associates degrees are really aimed at increasing someone’s earning potential through two year programs in subjects like civil engineering, education in nursing. So, I think that really goes to the heart of closing this skills gap.
Kurt Wallace: Now, is that part of the non-traditional education? You talk about how someone can attain their dream job through this — what you’re calling non-traditional education. What does that mean?
Nicholas Wyman: Well, in the book I actually tell a story through — not only individuals, but companies. And, if I look to a helicopter rescue crew. There’s a story in there about some people who gained professional certifications so they’re still saving lives each and every day but they don’t necessarily have had to have gone to a four year college and then to medical school.
So, it really is about the right job for individuals and something they’re passionate about. And, very much about the right education at the right time. So, people often feel that there’s this cookie-cutter mentality. That they have to follow education tracks. And, I’m suggesting that it’s really up to the individual to decide which journey you’ll take.
Kurt Wallace: How does the individual sell themselves to a company that’s looking for a resume? They’re interested in the resume first?
Nicholas Wyman: Well, I think that you’ve touched on an interesting point. And, probably the root of all evils in companies that we’re going to see lag behind in my opinion are the companies that are using this new technology to scan people’s resume looking for keywords. And, I understand that some employers are labored with a number of applications.
But, my advice to individuals out there is you really need to get out there and meet employers. It’s great to have a great resume and you really need to have right up front the skills that you’re going to bring the company. But, I think you also got to to be seen to be very interested in the industry that you want to work in and really make good networks. And those are the people that I’m seeing get the jobs.
Kurt Wallace: It sounds to me that you’re taking more of an entrepreneurial approach to the perspective of someone going out there and wanting to be in a specific field.
Nicholas Wyman: Well absolutely, there’s a quote in the book from a mentor of mine who was a famous chef in Switzerland. Who ended up working at the Dorchester in London. He grabbed me as a young chef one day and he said “Nick, don’t wait for your ship to come in, you need to swim out to it”.
And, even though it might be a slightly old fashion saying — I think the message is pretty clear. If you’re looking to change your career or you’re looking for an optional — even if you’ve been a victim of unemployment or for whatever reason you’re not on the right career path.
Sitting at home staring at the walls searching the internet is not going to get you a job. You really need to get out into circulation. You need to meet employers. You need to meet other people. Because the online resources are great but that’s only one aspect. And, so many people just click click click and that’s actually not going to really teach people what it’s about.
You need to get out there and touch it and feel it and really integrate and communicate with people.
Kurt Wallace: From your culinary background what’s your favorite dish?
Nicholas Wyman: Well, an interesting story — you’ve obviously picked up in my accent that this is not a New York accent, it’s an Australian accent. So, when I arrived in London, I started working at a hotel and it was a Yugoslavian chef.
And, the only reason I got the job there was because he said “ah, Mr. Wyman you’re Australian. Perfect, you can come work on the fish section”. And, his idea is actually had set up like the United Nations of kitchens. So, sadly for the English they did the veg and the Swiss did the sauce and the French did the rotisserie. So, that really gave me a head start into the world of fish cookery.
So, probably a French fisherman style bouillabaisse with an aioli cruson. And, that’s a dish that I like to cook for friends. But, I really must say these days I like to cook for six and not six hundred.
Kurt Wallace: Nicholas Wyman CEO at Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation, your new book Job U: Developing the Skills Companies Actually Need. Thanks for spending some time with us today on Rare.
Nicholas Wyman: Look it’s been fantastic and if people wanted to engage with me, please follow me on twitter. It’s @nicholas_wyman I’d love to have conversation with people and talk about the book.