- Over years the two main reasons for German employers having to refuse youth applications for apprenticeships are a lack of skills (even basic language or math skills) as well as a lack of motivation, discipline, and so on. So school shouldn't only focus on developing the intellect but also personality and character. (Even in later stages of your work life/ career your success or failure will probably be more correlated to your personality and character; it's worth every effort but needs respected role models) Students should learn about their own strengths, weaknesses, and personality styles. They should respect cultural differences and different personality styles to better collaborate. In order to later "sell" their "Unique Selling Proposition" to potential employers or - as an entrepreneur - to potential customers, they must first have the chance to discover and develop it. And since education (from beginning school to leaving) takes several years and even teachers and curricula can't predict the future and the skills/ solutions then required in an ever-changing environment, it is critical to empower the students by experiential education/ problem based learning to then be able to adapt and find own solutions. (Though not knowing every details of their concepts, the following two schools - certainly among others - could be examples: Schule Schloss Salem and Hawken School. The real challenge probably is to do so without their amount of resources)
- Besides the fact that there will always be people who don't fit in standardized employment patterns I think you can't rely anymore on being securely employed until retirement. Therefore successful entrepreneurial education to create new jobs gains more and more importance. I do know that there exist several attempts and even institutions to teach entrepreneurship in schools. But up to now - just searching on the Internet - I haven't found any better than Hawken School Entrepreneurship Program. They haven't just already run several successful courses but have even started to train teachers how to do it themselves. They combine the Lean LaunchPad approach of Steve Blank (containing itself the concept of Alexander Osterwalder's Business Model Canvas) with Design Thinking. I personally like to combine these also with the Business model brainstorm kit to make it more visual and with the concept of Prof. Günter Faltin for the Creation of Business Ideas and how to pre-check them theoretically for sustainability and minimal use of starting capital. These, a further interesting concept of Pretotyping and some others are included in my Appendix to this challenge. I do like them all and find them very valuable for me (as an interested and trained adult) but don't know how this may work out in a school setting with students (sometimes less is more). Feel free to test! As Hawken students have proven, you don't need an academic degree for entrepreneurship. So why don't scale it, bring it out of the universities and into the schools and public places (e. g. Fab labs, Maker-, and Hacker-Spaces) ???
2014-09-26 – Update –
- When I studied Mechanical Engineering, the Faculty of Quality Assurance had some kind of cooperation with the DGQ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Qualität), the German branch of the EOQ (European Organization for Quality). The EOQ offers some special Junior Programs, “intended to provide access to internationally recognized certification programs for persons who have reached a high level of theoretical knowledge in the specified area (e.g. typically through an advanced university degree in the area) but have not obtained the full work experience in order to fulfil the requirements of the respective certification scheme.” So – with a little bit of extra effort – I finally haven’t only gotten my Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, but also the vocational certificate “Quality Systems Manager Junior”.
There are several more organizations offering such kind of vocational certificates in cooperation with educational institutions (IPMA, PMI, GPM, CFA Institute, …).
The Austrian University of Applied Sciences CAMPUS 02 and the German IT Training and Consulting Co-operative Oose even managed to design a curriculum for a Master Degree (M.Sc. Software Engineering Leadership; taught in German) providing the students with the necessary knowledge for six vocational certificates on at least foundational level (CPSA, PSM, OCEB2, OCUB2-F, CPRE, and CTFL; if fulfilling all additional requirements, e. g. work experience, participants can then attend the exams on their own initiative).
Hamburg School of Business Administration e. g. offers special Executive Education Courses and Seminars leading to a vocational certificate as well as earning academic credits. And Gisma Business School e. g. offers Dual MBA Programmes, where you can also at least in parallel study for the vocational certificates “Chartered Certified Accountant” and “Chartered Financial Analyst”.
According to the Economist – citing a survey of McKinsey as well as Clayton Christensen and Michelle Weise – competency-based/ vocational education like mentioned above becomes more and more important to “tie education more closely to work”. This could help to fill vacant job positions, where employers can’t find people with the right skills needed.
I’m still wondering that there are auditing-related Programs in Germany (even designed under the guidance of major auditing companies) which neither are accredited according to §8a or §13b WPO (which would qualify for waiving some of the final exams for the “Wirtschaftsprüfer” – the German equivalent to a US Chartered Public Accountant/ UK Chartered Certified Accountant) nor include at least some of their whole bunch of additional vocational certificates (e. g. CFA, CVA, CMA, CFE, CIA, CGAP, CFSA, CRMA, CISA, CISM, CGEIT, CRISC, CINA, …), as I already suggested to a particular Business School in Northern Germany more than one year ago.
- In her latest book “The Key: How Corporations Succeed by Solving the World's Toughest Problems” Lynda Gratton describes the possibility (necessity?) for (future) companies to be/ become a Force for Good. I think this is very important, since corporations are the value creation cells and way more flexible than politics. Though she seems to focus primarily on large companies, I have been thinking now for years about the complementary part: how to align and support SMEs and self-employed people for the same purpose. (It’s not about either/ or as we need as much companies as possible to act this way. It’s just that I haven’t ever been in a large corporation, SMEs form the largest part of the economy and a lot of – especially family-owned – companies are already more or less acting this way)
While knowing the concept of “Social Entrepreneurship” and wishing the best for all acting this way, I am personally glad that I came across the concept of “Transformational Entrepreneurship” (see also here and here; though having questions concerning some of their actual rankings), which raises the bar even a little bit higher. For me “Transformational Entrepreneurship” is about how to best align personal/ organizational/ societal needs (of course including stakeholders, Families, communities, …) in a sustainable and profitable way.
Some of my current thoughts (only the most important ones just in a nutshell; like above it’s about integrating the cores – not necessarily every detail – of several – sometimes even opposing – concepts):
- These Companies could be possibly organizing themselves as a network of community-like co-operatives as a way to pursue their shared value-driven and balanced economic interests under a joint Brand similar to the Hanseatic League in medieval times or today’s Hanseatic Parliament. They could at least partially pool resources and shift wherever needed. One stated goal (among others) of these companies would be to invest a certain percentage of their profits in companies and start-ups (without intended exits) within their network (to help multiply this value-driven and balanced economic impact) as well as in (e.g. unemployed young) people, projects, organizations, and communities in need outside the network (one possible guideline: “Impact to Empower”) They will encourage (probably without any formal obligation) all recipients of any kind of help to pass on this help to others, as soon as they are in a position to help – again with encouragement to pass on this help under the same condition. By doing so, they will not only donate, not only empower, but over time create an increasing stream of help in an informal way (and maybe even a “Culture of Caring and Helping”).
- In a similar context (“Bringing Compassion Into The Neighborhood”) Lynda Gratton refers – among other corporations – to the John Lewis Partnership in her above mentioned book “The Key”: “The John Lewis Partnership is Britain’s largest and oldest example of worker co-ownership, with more than 81.000 partners owning the retailer’s 38 department stores and 285 Waitrose supermarkets. … Etched outside the entrance to its London headquarters, in large chrome letters covering the entire wall, is the following message: ‘In 1914 John Spedan Lewis laid the foundations for a different kind of business. His vision was of a great commercial enterprise whose success would be measured by the happiness of those working in it and by its good service to the general community.’ ”
I don’t know, whether she would – or even could – be a general advocate for this pattern of corporate organization, as it might go even beyond her advice to business leaders in her book “The Shift: The Future of Work is Already Here” (especially with regard to Gen Y): “Most companies have worked implicitly on the basis of a parent-child relationship with employees – making decisions about where work takes place, when people work, and how and what they work on. Increasingly your talented employees will want an adult-adult relationship in which more of these decisions about the placing and scoping of work are made by them rather than by you.”
To be true, even “Patrick Lewis, a great-grandson of the founder and the only member of the family still working for the company … is both excited and worried by the company being seen as the poster boy for responsible capitalism.” Since there are pros and cons, “… the John Lewis board has decided not to become overtly political in seeking to change the economic system.”
An increasing number of companies have been changing to (more) self-organization (and sometimes even to co-ownership): Besides the internationally well-known Semco (see here) and Morning Star/ Morning Star Self-Management Institute there are in Germany e. g. Allsave (see also here), Partake, Premium-Cola (see also here), and several other companies, including the above mentioned – since recently co-owned – IT Training and Consulting Co-operative Oose.
Personally, I am thinking about whether and how corporations could be seen and organized as “organisms” and how the experiences of the companies mentioned above could help me with this.
- There are several different concepts for payment schemes according to various points of view. In my opinion, everybody who works fulltime for a company and adds significant value should be able to earn his or her living (including legal obligations for spouse, children, parents, … and – according to “Fair Use” – covering the whole range of Maslow’s Pyramid. As we don’t live in a paradise yet, this might not be true for every single point of time, but should be the objective). So there might be no “Equal Pay” in absolute numbers, but in a relative way. In analogy to the quote of Mahatma Gandhi "There is enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed." everybody would be paid according to his or her needs (of course varying over time and according to personal circumstances), maybe plus a certain amount/ percentage with the obligation to invest/ help also on a personal level in the way mentioned above.
This approach might probably include some kind of self-restriction, as e. g. has been demonstrated by current Pope Francis. I’ m not a roman catholic, but I’m quite impressed by him and some of his statements. But to think about what is necessary and what isn’t (to balance personal needs with the needs of others – especially in regard to developing countries) could foster financial literacy as well and this might even reinforce this approach. The increasing awareness for a “Sharing Economy” (of course without this currently sometimes excessive commercialization) could also play a significant role for the implementation of such an approach.
- This network of companies will be explicitly “Family-friendly” and will closely cooperate with nearby day-care institutions, Kindergartens, schools, and institutions for higher education with comparable values. Whenever or wherever this is not possible, they might start own ones (maybe in cooperation with others).
- These companies will put special effort in discovering and developing each ones potential (conceptually as well as financially) and in how putting people together to make use of this potential. (Possible guideline: “Unity in Diversity”)
- In order to benefit from the becoming more and more important “Speed of Trust” (see the book of Covey/ Merill “The Speed of Trust”) they will act ethically and according to their stated values, e. g. similar to the concept of the “Honorable Merchant”.
- Fair trade with everybody – not only with companies in developing countries. Prizes have a certain bandwidth and are allocated according to the financial situation of each partner. If the seller is well-off while the buyer isn’t, prizes might be lower than vice versa. If both partners are in a comparable financial situation, prizes might be in the middle of that range or could be adjusted according to additional criteria. (In an advanced version this could be automatically allocated according to generally accepted real-time ratings/ criteria for network-internal trades, B2B as well as B2C with co-workers/ employees – being members – acting as customers) In case of scarcity products/ resources are distributed according to importance and urgency (no speculation).