"A Call to Action Between Higher Education & Employers in Building the Future Workforce in America

Posted by admin on 03/05/2020 1:41 pm  /   Professional Interest

By: Dr. Marisela Jiménez

The department of labor published that there are more job openings than job seekers. 


What the report does not include, however, is that the reason for a surplus in job openings is because candidates who are actively searching for employment do not meet the employers’ recruitment and selection expectations.  In other words, these job seekers are often told that they are not a fit for the position because they do not have the required experience, skills, or certifications to meet the employers’ customized workforce expectations.  


Education Data[1] recent reports published indicated, “It is estimated that for the 2019-2020 academic year, there will be a total of 3,898,000 college graduates in the United States.”  Indeed, each academic year, colleges and universities strategize and compete for high enrollment numbers.  In context, colleges and universities are graduating thousands of students each year, but when the new grads apply for job positions, they believe are qualified for, they get hit with a new reality untold in the classroom by their academic faculty, advisors, and deans.  This reality is that college education matters less significantly, and experience is highly emphasized. 


Therefore, colleges' and universities' message must be accurately aligned with preparing students for the workforce of the future, ensuring that students develop the critical experience, skills, and knowledge expected by employers’ need for the talented labor force. 


There seems to exist a correlation between a preference for job experience and relevant skills, knowledge, and education; one premise is that currently many companies’ senior management and hiring committees believe that experience is key to driving the organization’s success. While this belief may be substantiated by Adam Smith’s economic concept of division of labor in terms of employers’ preferences for hiring employees with specialized skills, the reality of local and global markets defy employers’ traditional organizational structure and business models.


Hence, consider the imminent change in the workforce as shown in the graph below.  A younger, more educated, and diverse workforce is already emerging.

Fundamentally, education of the future directly influences workforce capabilities and relevant skills required to drive the local and global economies.  Therefore, a call to action is significantly due to change classroom curriculum, academic programs that are not contributing to workforce gainful employment, and the thinking systems of many leaders in higher education and private as well as public sector employers.  It is time for higher education institutions and employers to work closely together to build a future-driven career-path-bridge for students and graduates to help them cross over into gainful employment opportunities while simultaneously balancing surpluses in the labor market that have diminished the value of education.  The future of work demands collective intelligence and collaboration between higher education leaders and employers in ensuring that Americans are trained and ready to build and sustain the success and wealth of our country, United States of America.


[1] Source: Education.Data.Org. Number of College Graduates Per Year (2019). Retrieved from https://educationdata.org/number-of-college-graduates/

Things I have learnt along the way...

Posted by admin on 06/04/2019 4:45 pm  /   Professional Interest

Things I have learnt along the way...
By Chizzy Menkiti, PMI Houston Newsletter Editor

Here are some things I have learnt along the way.

Communication is key. This is how the rest of the organization gets to know about how your project is faring - whether it is your stakeholders, your team, your sponsors, your line managers.

Tailor your communication method to the situation - and decide if it should be in-person, phone-call, text, email, meeting, presentation, formal report. The more complex it is, you might need to combine any of the options above - to make sure the message is delivered.

Having a plan is critical, but remain flexible and ‘fluid’ - as plans change ever so often and most times, for the slightest of reasons(!).

Budgets are not cast in stone. Like plans, business priorities change and this can affect the project budget causing it to shrink, grow (rarely!) or completely disappear.

Study people. We are all wired differently and react differently to specific situations.

Take breaks. Sometimes, we can get so wrapped up in our projects that we become isolated from others. Make yourself some coffee or have a cup of water. Those conversations around the coffee machine or the water cooler are great for networking with your colleagues and finding out more about what else is going on around you.

‘Sweeping it under the carpet’ doesn’t work. If there’s an issue, bring it to the forefront, so that it can be addressed immediately.

Feedback is invaluable. Be bold, brace yourself, ask for feedback and accept the comments - without being defensive. Get multiple opinions.

Be organized. As the Project Manager, you are the ‘face’ for all the project work going on behind the scenes. Presenting a chaotic disorganized front suggests the project is in turmoil. Would you buy something from a shop when the storefront looks untidy and in disarray?

Finally, relationships matter. Be approachable, be transparent and most importantly be truthful.

What’s on your list? Feel free to send them to me at [email protected] and we will compile them and publish at a later date.


Posted by admin on 06/04/2019 4:37 pm  /   Professional Interest

Tom Goebel, PMI Houston Director of Communications

A question many Project Managers ask is “How do I get my Project Management career started?”

Although not quite a chicken-and-egg question, the answer isn’t cut-and-dried. It is indisputable that some experience with projects is a prerequisite for becoming a CAPM or PMP. After all, the applicant has to show 4500 hours of experience just to qualify (less for CAPM) to take the exam!

But having worked on projects for that many hours doesn’t mean that the candidate has project management experience. The requirement, I suspect, merely affirms that you’ve been around projects and are familiar with expectations regarding controls and risk, time, and cost management etc.

As we know, Project Management is a discipline that combines these skills with many others to bring about a successful project conclusion. It is not easy, and it is not always intuitive.

Looked at another way, many test-takers find after they’ve passed the PMP exam, that they are still at the beginning of a long uphill learning curve. It’s a learning curve that will require practical experience to complement the knowledge they gained while studying for the test. It is simply impossible to be able to apply the principles of Project Management immediately without gaining some context through experience.

In the Precedence Diagramming Method used by project managers to lay out the timing framework of projects, there is a logical relationship called Start-to-Start. Start-to-Start describes a situation where Activity B is dependent on and cannot start until Activity A has begun.

For example, writing of a user manual (Activity A) must have started before editing of the manual (Activity B) can begin.

A similar approach can be taken with respect to setting a project management career in motion. Acquisition of experience using established PMI standards and principles (i.e., from PMBOK), or Activity B, depends on the acquisition of knowledge (Activity A) as the candidate starts to prepare for the CAPM or PMP exam. Experience in this sense doesn’t refer to previous experience with projects. Instead, it is experience related to project management as charted by PMBOK and PMI. When you start studying for the exam, your education in the discipline of project management – through study and experience – is just beginning.

In the long run, it isn’t necessary to operate sequentially. If you do, you may not be optimizing the knowledge you’re gaining from PMI. As you start preparing for the exam, it’s important to absorb and begin applying PMBOK standards and best practices, even to small “projects” in your personal life, and to think about their purpose and effect. In other words, implement Start-to-Start.