Tag Archives: jobs

Baby steps toward reducing rural brain drain

The head of the town’s chamber of commerce facetiously says the local high school students walk off the stage with their diplomas onto a Greyhound bus, never to be seen again.Collage of 1-way signs surprinted with Suppose we could reverse rural brain drain with local information

The situation is not quite that dire, but the Bainbridge, NY, community is certainly not retaining or reclaiming enough of its young people to make even the most optimistic folks feel confident about the town’s future.

The brain drain has been on the minds of some local businesswomen who want to see the town retain jobs and create new ones.

As I’ve talked to owners and employees of businesses, when they learned I’m a writer, nearly every person has asked if I could write something they needed.

The needs they identified included radio ads, an employee manual, and web page copy — which are only a small fraction of the materials businesses really need to be competitive in a digitally connected world.

Filling local businesses’ needs for written content could become a business for some local graduate.

I suspect there are other business opportunities waiting to be discovered here as well.

Perhaps, like the town in this 2-minute video, we’ve assumed that students want to leave and not come back, when they would be open to coming back after college if they only knew what opportunities exist to create a business here.














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Filed under Rural schools, School-community relations

Entrepreneurship rural economic key

I guest-blogged  this week for Education and Tech about six businesses serving the business market that a youngster with some computer and art skills could start while in high school.

I see entrepreneurship as the most likely way for a rural area to retain of its young people after high school. Students who go off to college with an eye to getting a good job are unlike to return to rural communities where there are few good jobs to be had. That loss of young people is a significant concern in the rural areas, as this 2011 survey in the Guilford, NY, community shows.

If students need more training than their high school provided—as they almost certainly will—the Internet makes it possible for them to get advanced training, often for little or no cost.  And those who want more than just vocational training can get that in a rural area, too, if they have access to the Internet. Massachusetts Institute of Technology alone has 2000 free college-level courses available.

{Broken link removed 04-02-2014]


Filed under Alternatives to college

Add skill applications to high school courses

David Brooks writes in today’s New York Times about the two different economies in the United States. The manufacturing economy is prospering because it has learned to use technology to reduce people costs, boost productivity, and increase profits in the face of global competition. By contrast the economic sectors that don’t face global competition—notably government, healthcare, and education—are not prospering.

One of the down-stream effects of this economic rift is the rise of the entrepreneurial information worker who sells his/her skills on a job-by-job basis.  The education community at large has not come to grips with the significance of this economic trend.When educators talk about entrepreneurs, most of the time what they have in mind is a Steve Jobs-type figure creating a vast corporate empire. The reality is likely to be a single-owner business with at most a couple of employees.

If most students from the middle and lower class are going to have any chance of surviving without a college degree—which many of them won’t be able to afford—schools need to make “what you can do with this skill” a part of coursework across the curriculum so students graduate high school with entrepreneurial skills. That doesn’t require a special program.  It does require doing some digging to see what skills are needed in the local community that students could master within existing courses.

Picture TIFF file iconFor example, right now I could use someone with skills to prepare e-book covers. Designing book covers doesn’t require a college degree, or even a high school diploma. It requires computer skills, math skills, art skills, plus the ability to read and follow directions and to copy text accurately. There’s no reason the required skills couldn’t be taught in a high school art program. Eric Azcuy does it in his art classes at Urban Assembly school for Applied Math and Science even with sixth graders.

There are hundreds of e-book producers like me across the country, and they all need book covers.  Put “e-book cover design” into your search box and look at what designers charge. Even design services that use templates pull in several hundred dollars a cover.

JPG picture file iconExisting small businesses like mine are willing to pay someone to do something they could do but don’t have time to do without taking time from their main focus. Those small businesses are places where Josh and Caitlin, even at age 15, can get paid for doing something they enjoy. In the process, Josh and Caitlin might even decide they need to learn something else from their school classes.

We can always hope.

Photo credit: pic file icons, uploaded by ilco. Property releases  photo #980850, photo #999032 photo ##1063691

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Filed under Teachers

Dear Applicant: The reason you weren’t hired

Since April,  I’ve been advertising unsuccessfully for two part-time, virtual workers in my educational publishing business. The responses have been mainly from highly schooled individuals who:

  • Don’t know how to write an email,
  • Either don’t read or don’t follow directions, and
  • Don’t have a clue what skills are needed for the 21st century office.

I sent respondents boilerplate “thank you for your interest” replies, but mentally wrote letters I wished I dared send.

In honor of Labor Day, here’s a sample of what I would like to have said.

Dear Applicant,

Your success at raising fourth grade writing scores in your 14th year of teaching is truly impressive. Regretably, I have no need to raise fourth grade writing scores, and if I did, I couldn’t wait 14 years for you to do it.

Yours truly,

Dear Applicant,

Your one-sentence application was a model of conciseness. I’m sure you are the shining star of the English faculty at your college. Unfortunately, I have a policy that prohibits me from hiring people solely because they say they need extra income.

Yours truly,

Dear Applicant,

Your application was truly memorable. I cannot recall ever before having anyone include in a cover letter a 3,000-word article on how to choose a lobster.

Although the job will be filled by someone who can follow directions, you can be sure that the next time I have a job opening, I will remember your application.

Yours truly,

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for offering to come to my office to discuss the virtual assistant position.

Anyone who needs to discuss a virtual position face-to-face is not suited for the position.

Yours truly,

Dear Applicant,

With your two masters’ degrees and a doctorate, you are vastly overqualified for the virtual assistant job. The last person who had the job was a 14-year-old; she was overqualified, too.

There is only one position in my business that is a good fit for someone with your creativity and business acumen.

I’m not about to give it up.

Yours truly,

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Filed under Assessment of students