Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Maine Marine Trades Association and North Star Alliance release new career site

The Maine Marine Trades Association and the North Star Alliance have collaborated to develop a great website aimed at high schools students and their parents. The website, is a stunning website that introduces people to the many opportunities in Boatbuilding, Marine Trades, and Composites Manufacturing. The website has industry videos, wonderful stories about successful students, and education opportunities in the fields. In addition, the website shows the career ladders and skills that are needed throughout the industry. This is a fantastic career website for students, parents, and the industry as a whole.

Built Energy Forum 2009

Build Green Maine hosted and organized the Built Energy Forum on Monday the 26th at the Augusta Civic Center. Nearly 200 people in construction, architecture, building science, energy auditing, and real estate joined together to discuss next steps in residential and commercial building energy efficiency and how to lessen Maine's carbon output. Maine releases the most carbon of any state; 17 metric tons of CO2 per person.

Joe Lstiburek from Building Science Corporation was the esteemed keynote speaker. He is one of the leading engineers and building science professionals in the country. His main contention is that building efficiency is the key to energy security and climate change. He also believes that the battle must begin with success in residential buildings. Success in residential energy efficiency can then be used to promote commercial building efficiency. His humor about commercial buildings was laced with deep concern. We build buildings with way too much glass and steel making them leaky and incredibly inefficient. Even buildings labeled has efficient generally are not. Mr. Lstiburek says that the key to green is energy conservation and alternative energy development.

Dr. Habib Dagher from the Advanced Engineering and Wood Composites Center at UMAINE Orono talked about how Maine can develop alternative resources. He advocates that offshore wind power is the only long-term solution to develop enough clean energy for the electricity generation we need to run hybrid vehicles, our buildings, and our transportation sector. Dr. Dagher also said we must invest in mid-term solutions like geothermal heat pumps and cold air heat pumps to make buildings more efficient and sustainable.

At the end of the long, successful day, DECD Commissioner John Richardson offered six important steps that need to happen:
1. Development of a coordinated alternative energy plan
2. The need for public outreach and education...He believes this is where the state gov't can provide the most help in public relations and education
3. Development of a sustainable credit and rebate program for Maine consumers
4. A strong and effective building and energy efficiency code
5. A strong professional association to maintain the standards of work in the field
6. The need for research and development to happen and stay in Maine

Four major next step themes were agreed upon by the attendees and the communication will continue with all in attendance:
1. Education for workforce development was the #1 need
2. Financing for all income levels through the development of an Energy Efficiency Utility
3. Development of strong regulations in building code and energy efficiency
4. Standards for work quality in the industry

This was a very exciting day and I am very hopeful that Maine will be successful in developing a strong industry sector around energy efficiency and alternative energy resources. Another link to check out is the Carbon Market Project through Maine Housing where they are developing a methodology to compute avoided carbon emissions from energy efficiency projects. This program then will sell the avoided carbon emissions to create a revenue source to expand energy efficiency in housing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Talent pays for itself

Think talent doesn’t matter? Think again.

Ever enter a fast food joint and see a skilled manager keeping the lines moving, food orders filled flawlessly, and employees hopping? When you see it in action, it’s a beautiful thing. The flipside of this is when you stop in and that manager’s gone home, or it’s their off day, beauty becomes a nightmare; like when you’re on the road and it’s late, and you stop for a quick bite, and you stand in line for 20 minutes and leave with someone else’s order, or bite into fries that have been sitting in the fry rack and they're cold and soggy (or eat that Subway sandwich, improperly put together and end up wearing it). If that’s never happened to you, you’ve not spent any length of time on the road.

The HR Capitalist has a great post on the kind of revenue a stellar manager at McDonald’s can bring in for a store—about 200K extra per year. Yet despite the company’s recognition that this position is a revenue generator, turnover continues to be a problem.

Read down to the end because the post has some interesting things to say about compensation, tied to value creation, and how it ties into retention.

Talent issues aren’t going away, even though they’re conveniently forgotten during these economic dark days. They’ll come back soon enough, when our new president’s stimulus package kicks in, shakes the doldrums from the economy, and we’re right back in the midst of shortages of people that bring value to our companies and organizations.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Two Charlies on the economy

Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia expects the U.S. economy to slowly start recovering in the second half of 2009 and inflation to remain below 2 percent over the next year.

In a Wednesday speech at the University of Delaware, Plosser indicated that he didn't expect the unemployment rate to drop soon, but that it wouldn't rise to the double digit levels experienced in the early 1980s.

You can read the rest of the article on his speech here.

In Maine, economist Charles Colgan, at his annual "Breakfast with Charlie" at the University of Southern Maine, offered a far less rosy picture.

According to Colgan, Maine's economic woes will be with us well into 2010, without any significant thaw until the third quarter of that year. For more on Colgan's chilly forecast, visit the Muskie School's website.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could prove the experts wrong, and find a way out of this nosedive sooner?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Innovative Maine employer adds to its workforce

Given the current state of the economy, any employer adding 10, or 15 jobs would be something to crow about. When an innovative employer, one that refurbishes aircraft of all types is looking to add 200 jobs, well forgive us for being downright giddy.

Founded in 1989 by Jim Horowitz, Oxford Aviation has earned a national reputation for its custom paint refurbishment, modification, and completion services, which it has provided to over 4000 private and business airplanes & helicopters.

The company recently expanded, launching the Brunswick Jet Division, located on the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. This is now the company's largest division, even before the addition of the 200 positions they are looking to have online by the summer.

On Saturday, January 16, Oxford Aviation will be hosting a job fair at the Maine Advanced Technology Center (MATC), at BNAS. The Maine Advanced Technology Center (MATC) is part of the Southern Maine Community College Brunswick Campus, in partnership with government, industry, and the Maine University System.

MATC's labs, classroom space, and various application shops for manufacturing and composites training provides the MidCoast region with a place where workers can acquire the skills necessary for employment in industries that utilize advanced manufacturing and composite applications, like Oxford Aviation.

The fair will run from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. FMI about this opportunity, contact Oxford Aviation, at 539-4779.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's all about the value

I’m not one for the seemingly never-ending predictions made about the coming year that inevitably get rolled out during the dying embers of the previous one. Many of these prognosticators end up with proverbial egg on their face when the review of the past 365 days is done.

However, I’m going to go out on a limb here. My fearless prediction for 2009 is that value will become a common refrain over the next 12 months--value in the context of what potential employees can bring to a new employer, as well as the products and services produced by companies will need to meet a need, and provide value for the consumer. This isn’t limited to the private sector, either. Agencies that are part of local, state, and national government will need to be able to prove, during budget shortfalls that their services are necessary, and create value in the short run, and let’s not neglect the need to keep in mind the longer view, either.

So how does this shake out in the real world? Let’s say for instance that you are out of work, or spinning your wheels in a low-wage/low-skill employment cycle; early 2009 is a great time to enroll in a soft skills training program like WorkReady, if you’re fortunate to have one offered in your area. Lewiston will be holding WorkReady #7, starting January 26. Waterville will be offering their second program in March.

If you’ve just lost your job, there are a variety of no cost options provided courtesy of your local CareerCenter. Maine’s One-Stops provide a great deal of bang for the taxpayers buck. Not only can their helpful staff assist with an out-of-date resume, helping you create it the way employers want it, they also provide a variety of workshops (check with your local Center to see what they have) on interviewing skills, free internet access, job listings and job search help, employment counseling, as well as a weekly Unemployed Professionals Group (Lewiston) with dynamic guest speakers.

Losing a job can be traumatic, and certainly not something that anyone welcomes. The best way to use your unemployment period to your own advantage is finding ways to boost your employability. This is particularly true if you’ve been laid off after a considerable stretch in the same occupation. Your local Adult Education office is another super place turn for a skills boost. If you haven’t visited one of Maine’s many Adult Ed offices for awhile, its not just about getting your GED, or remedial classes. Most locations offer a wealth of technology classes that will help increase your computer literacy, and acquire high-end skills if you already have the basics down. Lewiston Adult Education last February offered 30 weeks of welding training leading to industry-specific certifications.

While Maine, like other parts of country are seeing unemployment spikes, and the worst economic period in the last 30-35 years, at some point (hopefully Q3, or Q4), employers once again will see demand for products and services pick up, and they’ll be looking for employees that can help them ensure value. Make sure you’re ready when opportunity knocks.

One item that sometimes gets left out of the job search mix to the peril of a job seeker, is the importance of networking. One of my new “go to” blogs, particularly when it comes to all things HR, is Punk Rock HR (how come HR directors in Maine aren’t this cutting edge?). Laurie has a great post today about networking, and why it’s key (even more than your resume). She also introduces you to another great resource in Jennifer, at Cincy Recruiter, as well as putting in a plug for Twitter, and other social networking sites, like LinkedIn. [Note: Your immediate reaction about social networking reveals much about your current state. Like it or not, Web 2.0 is here to stay, so ignore it at your peril-JB]

In closing, it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture, particularly on the policy side of things. Leadership is faced with tough choices when it comes to budgets and maintaining vital services. Let’s hope that those in Augusta will make wise decisions that have a positive impact on economic and workforce development for the future. Shortsightedness and panic could be disastrous. My hope is that someone making policy has a strategic vision that moves beyond the obvious, to visioning what the state will look like in 5, 10, and 15 years out.