Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Professional Development

How we Can Promote Workforce Development in the Sacramento Region

Co-working, Corporate Training, Event Recap, Internet of Things, KAIP Academy, Learning, Professional Development, Sacramento, Technology, The WorkShop, Training, Workforce Development

By Terry Daffin

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Golden Sierra Workforce Tech Forum: Occupations & Skills in an Automated World, hosted by Valley Vision and Golden Sierra Workforce Board.

Valley Vision “…inspires leaders to think big and collaborate on bold, long-term solutions that improve people’s lives and Golden Sierra’s Workforce Board, “…is an industry-led board of directors who identify and solve problems within key economic sectors in the tri-county region (Placer, El Dorado and Alpine).”

As the Project Manager for KAI Partners’ KAIP Academy and the Community Manager for co-working and incubation space The WorkShop – Sacramento, I was especially interested in hearing firsthand what employers are looking for in terms of workforce development for their organization.

There were many great panelists at the forum, including Sean Moss, Senior Estimator and Project Manager for McGuire and Hester; Gordon Rogers, Project Principal of the Owen Group; Annette Smith-Dohring, Workforce Development Manager for Sutter Health; Bernadette Williams, CMI Operations Manager at VSP; and Joseph Taylor, Assistant Professor at CSU Sacramento.

Each panelist was asked to describe what they believe the biggest educational need is for graduating students entering the workforce. Here’s a sampling of what they said:

  • Gap in technical skilled labor—employees are either highly skilled/specialized or they have little technical skills
  • Up-skilling; providing skills training on the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence to an existing workforce
  • Critical thinking skills; under-preparedness upon graduation

I left the forum with the question, “What can we do to close these gaps?” As a training provider, it’s clear we need to help industry and education align their efforts so that the workforce can stay updated on new methods, software/programming languages, and other emerging skills.

Here are a few ways to stay on top of digitalization and close the skills gap:

  1. Industry and education leaders should seek out training programs that will prepare students for critical thinking, data and business analytics, problem solving, and soft skills necessary to enter the workforce and immediately become productive.
  2. Students should be encouraged to seek out internships in work-based learning opportunities (especially those that provide educational units for their participation).
  3. Employees should be encouraged to widen their professional development by taking certification courses (especially those that provide professional development units).

There is a lot we can do to close the skills gap and promote workforce development in our region. KAIP Academy is excited to offer training courses and programs for building up a more highly skilled Sacramento.

About the Author: Terry Daffin is an Executive Consultant within KAI Partners. He has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years and has over 25 years of project management experience. As a public sector consultant in the health care industry, Mr. Daffin assisted in the development and implementation of Project Management Offices that include project management, service management, lean agile and traditional product development lifecycles, and governance processes. He has been an innovation advocate and evangelist for 15 years and has implemented innovative processes for projects that he has been engaged on since 2001. Mr. Daffin currently works as the Project Manager of the KAIP Academy, KAI Partners’ training division and is the Community Manager at KAI Partners’ new co-working space, The WorkShop – Sacramento, focused on connecting innovative start-ups and the public sector.

5 Ways to Foster Career and Personal Growth

Co-working, Corporate Training, KAIP Academy, Learning, Professional Development, Training, Workforce Development

By Terry Daffin

Change is growth. This is a simple statement that most people can probably agree on. Yet many of us resist because change is hard or we’re afraid or it’s uncomfortable.

I am entering my 35th year in the IT industry and I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of change not only in the technology industry, but in my professional career overall. Some change was planned and controlled (taking a new job or moving across the country), but many of the changes were not planned (learning a new programming language or the company I worked for going out of business) and I was forced to react and adapt to the change.

The one element that moved me through all of this change was my love of learning. With each change, there was something new to learn. There were things I wanted to learn and things I had to learn to survive. But continuous learning was the key to success each time. With each change, I experienced growth—new job, new responsibilities, new ideas, new people, new perspectives. Ultimately, each change was a stepping stone to a new challenge and success was made possible through continuous learning.

Continuous learning is not difficult, but it takes planning and discipline. Here are five things you can do today to plan for growth in your personal life and professional career.

  1. Read every day. This sounds simple, but with so many life distractions, reading is sometimes difficult to do daily. Make time to read something you are passionate about and something related to your career goals; pick a source with detailed information about a subject you are interested in learning about. I use a both Flipboard and Medium because they allow me to choose my areas of interest. Make your own schedule to read when it works best for you personally.
  2. Write and Share. After I read something, I like to jot down some notes about it. This helps me remember what I’ve read. You could write a review or a blog post about something you’ve read. Share it with someone and talk about it. Teach some one what you’ve just learned. You also might think about speaking as a presenter on the subject at your work or a conference.
  3. Practice What You Learn. If you really want to learn something new, practice it many times over to become proficient at new skill. For example, I enjoy photography and cooking. Easy to practice, right? Examine the result, get feedback, make adjustments, and do it again. Practice may be more difficult in the workplace, but if you let supervisors and co-workers know that you have something new you’d like to try, you may find that they will accommodate you and may even participate and give you feedback needed to make adjustments. Remember, don’t give up! Learn from practicing and experimenting and make adjustments necessary to produce a better product.
  4. Join a Group or an Association. This a fantastic way to grow when learning something new. I belong to several photography groups online that plan “get togethers” to practice techniques. It’s a great way to learn and get feedback without fear of failure because many of the participants are there for the same reason. There are hundreds of professional organizations that would welcome you as a participating member. If you are an entrepreneur for example, you might join The Startup Grind which is an organization that puts on events centered around new startups and innovation. There are hundreds of local chapters and certainly one near you. Groups and Associations are a terrific way to network with others who share your passion.
  5. Enroll in a Training Course. Training, whether online or in a classroom setting, is an essential part of growth. You can find any number of free courses on just about anything you want to learn, but usually the best training courses will cost you something. Training courses provide you with experts who can share details related to a topic with which they have personal experience because they have typically been practicing their craft for many years. These courses often come with a certification or an achievement credential and are valuable for your growth as a professional. Even if you have a higher-level degree from a college or university, training courses can give you valuable insights into your field of choice, making you more valuable to your organization. The growth potential is immeasurable as you will be looked upon and often called upon as the expert. This step can catapult you toward your ultimate professional goals.

Change is a part of life and you will grow while going through whatever change you experience. To maximize growth, it is essential to develop a plan and the discipline to learn continuously. You will be happy you made the investment.

About the Author: Terry Daffin is an Executive Consultant within KAI Partners. He has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years and has over 25 years of project management experience. As a public sector consultant in the health care industry, Mr. Daffin assisted in the development and implementation of Project Management Offices that include project management, service management, lean agile and traditional product development lifecycles, and governance processes. He has been an innovation advocate and evangelist for 15 years and has implemented innovative processes for projects that he has been engaged on since 2001. Mr. Daffin currently works as the Project Manager of the KAIP Academy, KAI Partners’ training division and is working to expand KAI Partners’ co-working organization into an innovation incubator/accelerator focused on connecting innovative start-ups and the public sector.

How to Make Your Career Reach Its Full Potential

Best Practices, KAIP Academy, Learning, Professional Development, Training

By Ryan Hatcher

Years ago, I received a great piece of advice from a former boss who started an agricultural services business in his basement with a fax machine and a phone. In just two decades, he built an international consulting powerhouse largely credited with opening markets all over the world to domestic apples, cherries, wine, and many other West Coast crops.

He claims the key to his success was something he learned from the apple farmers he worked with early in his career: “Plant today what you want to harvest in 4, 7 and 10 years.”

Strategic, long-term planning is both a necessary and common practice of any successful business, but what about a successful career?

Many in my parents’ generation didn’t need to plan their careers. My mother taught in the same school district for 39 years where raises, tier increases, and pension benefits were all set in stone. This kind of linear career path is still somewhat common in the public sector (albeit with more department hopping) but the days of the “Company Man” working his or her way up with the same private sector organization for 30 years and getting the gold watch upon retirement are largely over.

With the rise of professional and physical mobility fueled, in part, by increasing technology and connectivity, job hopping has become common among younger workers. Whereas the median tenure for employees 65 years and older is 10.3 years, the median tenure for workers between 25 and 34 is only 3.2 years.

As a thirtysomething consultant with an average tenure of less than one year per engagement, I help bring that number down (and terrify my stability-minded mother). For the first few years, I took jobs out of necessity, for pay/responsibility increases, or because they seemed interesting with only a vague idea of long-term benefits.

My friends in tech operate much in the same way. Silicon Valley companies are continuously rewriting the e-book on poaching recruitment, and qualified employees can switch jobs as easily as replying to one of the dozens of LinkedIn solicitations they get every month.

Besides opportunity, what drives most workers to jump ship? A recent LinkedIn study found that 59 percent cited a stronger career path and increased opportunity as their primary reasons for leaving; this narrowly beat ‘better salary’ (54 percent) and ‘more challenging work’ (47 percent).

This study demonstrates two things: The desire for career advancement is enormous and most employers do a poor job fulfilling that need. With this in mind, workers have little choice but to take matters into their own hands.

So, in a world where we are all trailblazers of our own career paths, how do we incorporate strategic, long-term planning?

  • We can start by thinking of our careers as long-term investments. Short-term gains in salary or titles are exciting, but leaving a job prematurely can sacrifice valuable experience and relationships.
  • Staying current on emerging skills and certifications will increase opportunity in whatever direction we decide to take.
  • Most importantly, as with any long-term planning, focus should be on a discrete and defined set of goals. Without a continuous focus on set objectives, we risk wasting years on dead-end tangents and getting bypassed by peers.

By devaluing short-term gains, investing in professional development and focusing on a defined end point, we can create the framework for long-term success. Then comes the real challenge: discipline.

Much like any strategic investment, resisting the urge to tinker and make changes, big or small, is the hard part. Distraction via shiny objects is the enemy of long-term success.

The whole process seems simple, because it is. The reason so many people find strategic career planning challenging is because doing it correctly requires sacrifice. Foregoing a higher-paying opportunity or spending weekends collecting certifications aren’t choices many people have the self-control to make.

However, much like farmers, the most successful professionals are the ones who can develop and execute 4-, 7- and 10-year plans.

It is only with discipline, vision, and patience that we can create the necessary environment for apple trees, businesses, or careers to truly reach their potential.

About the Author: Ryan Hatcher is a skilled communications and management consultant with over a decade of experience campaigning for government, public affairs, and political clients. A recent addition to KAI Partners, Ryan serves as an executive consultant providing communications support to one of California’s heath care agencies. He resides in Sacramento with his wife, Nikki, and their two dogs.