Talent. That’s the new currency of economic development.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation manages a business fellowship that gives 35 Chamber and economic development professionals an in-depth look at innovative practices in education and workforce development around the country.

Talent Partnership Directive

Out of several hundred applicants, I was selected to participate, thanks to the Chamber’s new talent partnership and our overall efforts to grow the talent pool in Wichita Falls. [See story here]
The fellowship recently met in San Francisco to discuss K-12 education. The agenda placed heavy emphasis on personalized learning, and showed us some programs and schools that are doing it well.

Personalized learning atmospheres show trends for better collegiate participation

At the Summit Preparatory Charter School in Redwood City, CA, we spoke with several students who have experienced the personalized learning atmosphere first-hand. At this public school, a student’s progress is managed individually, with teachers spending time with each student to get them where they need to be.  Each student has a mentor and participates in peer groups to better develop character and the ability to work with a team. This last year, 100% of their graduating class was accepted into a four-year university.

Google’s hiring practices

One of the most interesting things I heard during this trip was about Google and its hiring practices. Recently the company was adding dozens of employees, and they issued a list of the top seven traits they were looking for. Technical skills were at the bottom of the list.
Their top needs were people with good attitudes, empathy, problem solving and the ability to work well with others. They find these candidates in programs like English, the humanities, and liberal arts. If I could teach my kids one skill, it would be the ability to solve problems with a team.
We can all teach people the details of our industry, but we can’t make them work well with others. And if we can provide problem-solvers to our business community, we’ll win the economic development game.
Talent – the new currency of economic development.
Let’s build something extraordinary!
Henry Florsheim
President & CEO
PS – I got pretty pumped up during a discussion about a new Waterford program called Upstart. WFISD was the first Texas school district to pilot this new pre-reading program for four-year-olds, and they were mentioned during this discussion.  Hometown proud!