February 16, 2015

A couple of years ago, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL summarized the federal government’s efforts to “retrain Americans”:

“The Obama administration has been promoting the retraining of unemployed workers as a linchpin of its economic-recovery plan. The federal government spent about $18 billion on training and job-search programs, running 47 separate programs offering training, in the year ended September 2009, the most recent tally by the Government Accountability Office. And that doesn’t include some state and local programs that use federal funding to train workers.

But government efforts to determine the effectiveness of the programs have been spotty, at best. . . . “

And now the feds have a new proposal:

“Last July, President Obama proposed the American Graduation Initiative to invest in community colleges and help American workers get the skills and credentials they need to succeed. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act includes $2 billion over four years for community college and career training. . . . With these resources, community colleges across the country could:

• Work with businesses
• Create education partnerships
• Teach basic skills
• Meet students’ needs
• Develop online courses”

For many years, I have read headline after headline calling for “Training” “and Re-Training” the nation’s workforce. Those headline-prescriptions are applied to both the unemployed and the under-employed. And, the lack of sufficient training is used as a “reason” behind the exporting of American jobs.

As with so many problems, the cause is clearly visible — but, the means of solution are greatly flawed. And that is because the individuals who design the training prescriptions are myopic.

“What worked for me will work for everyone,” becomes the mantra for the deciders of the re-training programs. And the obvious result is that those re-training programs then become reading/lecture-based solutions — leaving most of the individuals needing the re-training unable to acquire the skills they so desperately need.

A truly educated person thinks laterally. They accept new information and constantly readjust their conclusions.

With that thought in mind, what are the facts regarding effective training today? What is the better way to achieve significant learning gains for, at least, fifty percent of our population?

Today, we live in a technology age of information and too few would-be learners’ eyes rely primarily on the printed page for information and knowledge. Information, values and opinion are, for the most part, shaped by the two-dimensional images we see and hear on our computers, smartphones, tablets and television screens.

Today, moving pictures of real people and real actions, making real sounds, are shaping the minds of our citizens.

What are the facts today? Only 24 percent of this nation’s fourth graders are able to form opinions from what they read, and only 34 percent of our high school seniors can. The majority of our working adult population cannot comprehend anything written beyond a fourth-grade reading level.

Most people are visual learners when it comes to skills acquisition. ‘Seeing’, ‘hearing’, and ‘doing’ – in combination – is still the best way. In fact, studies continue to reveal that using “seeing-hearing-doing” multi-sensory media (in a full-motion and optional word-for-word audio environment) will increase the majority of learners’ understanding by more than 50% — resulting in a 25-50% greater learning retention — and with a 50-60% greater consistency in content understanding – the ultimate aim of all learning.

If this nation is truly serious about “Re-Training America” it must look toward the multi-sensory learning solutions that are readily available today Only then will we begin to seriously address the “Re-Train America” goals that this nation and its under-employed require.

More on Wednesday – – –

— Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning (Mondays & Wednesdays)