At the Speed of Employment: Leveraging Social Networking and Web Learning in Workforce Development

As we claw our way slowly out of the economic drain that we have been in, it is clear that things are beginning to speed up for the better.

Social networking has matured from a digital exercise in the vane and mundane into a powerful tool for connecting people with similar personal and professional interests. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networking environments have been elevated to useful status by the involvement of business professionals and businesses who are now realizing the power and reach of social media. Now, in a matter of minutes, like-minded individuals can share valuable personal and industry knowledge around the globe, participating in group discussions as well as one-on-dialogue with their industry peers.

As we continue our search for new careers, jobs, and employment, it is critical that we understand and leverage the power of social networking and social media. If you have not set up your LinkedIn account – do it! We have now gotten to the point that if you are not on the social networking bandwagon, you risk being left behind.

On another positive note, I am seeing the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) dollars in action, as local colleges and universities are rapidly building their courses and curricula to support the needs of the emerging sectors in energy, health care, and advanced manufacturing. The best news is that Michigan colleges and universities are ready to invest in converting their traditional instructor-led courses into web-based learning.

The transition to more web-based courses means that students will have a broader range of courses to choose from and an easier way to access and participate in the learning experience. These factors will play nicely into the lives of those who are trying to build their skills in an effort to re-enter the workforce. As more web-based courses become available, colleges and universities in the state will be able to offer their curricula outside of their current student base. This “portable” learning will also allow for customization of workforce development programs, where state and county agencies and non-profits can build targeted career transitions programs using courseware from multiple higher education sources.

It is this type of networking, communication, and sharing of resources that is adding speed and purpose to rebuilding our workforce here in Michigan.

I like what I see and I want to see more of it. It is time for individuals, businesses, government and education to come together – right now.

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