New Brunswick’s reinvention of its workforce offers a model for other localgovernments, and parts of the strategy could be adapted for the private sector.An example might be a company that is quickly trying to reposition itself in achanging marketplace. New Brunswick’s knowledge and innovation manager,Leonard Weeks, and others offer the following tips on how to change gears:
• Try a variety of vehicles for delivering training to workers. Noteveryone learns in the same way, at the same pace. New Brunswick at varioustimes has utilized video conferencing, online courses, and unstructured Internetsurfing as a way to reach different types of individuals with different needs.
• Look for existing assets that you can leverage as training resources. NewBrunswick turned its telephone network into a delivery system for trainingcourses, and converted a modest community college into a world-class center fordeveloping multimedia educational content and courses. Your government agency orcompany may have assets that can be converted to a new use, at far less than itwould cost to create specially designed ones.
• Combine training with work experience. Even the most skillfullyconstructed classroom simulations can’t match the insights gained fromactually doing a job. At New Brunswick’s Learning Technology Center ofExcellence, students reinforce their newly learned skills by immediately puttingthem to use in creating actual marketable products.
• Make training broadband. Instead of focusing on a smaller group of themost promising potential candidates for technology jobs, New Brunswick set outto give every worker in the province an opportunity to learn new skills. WithInternet-based training courses and other scalable distance-learning tools, it’spossible to do that without significantly increasing your costs. "You neverknow what a person’s potential is going to be," says Weeks, "until yougive them a chance to show it."
• Shape your training efforts to fit a market niche. New Brunswickofficials visited Silicon Valley in the mid 1990s, looking for leads on anew-media market segment that wasn’t already dominated by big players. Theyidentified courseware and training technology as a need that no one had filled,and focused on training their workers to claim that niche.
Workforce, July 2002, p. 48 -- Subscribe Now!