Why Twitter Needs An Apprenticeship ProgramFor Corporations, Business Owners & Entrepreneurs
Why Are Apprenticeship Programs Important To Today’s Tech Industry?
Why Are Apprenticeship Programs Important To Today’s Tech Industry?
As we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, on November 14-20th, it is important that we recognize the need for tech-based companies of all sizes to adopt a qualified Registered Apprenticeship Program as they develop software and grow their teams.
The massive layoffs at Twitter by Elon Musk and recently Facebook are symptoms of a much larger problem that the technology industry is facing and will continue to face if corrections are not made immediately. As in war, it does not matter if your troops are fully prepared with the right gear and training if they are unwittingly led to a D-Day-like battlefield in which the casualties are unnecessarily great and similarly most apprentices will quickly leave the industry. Today’s apprentices and employees should be aware of both the obstacles and opportunities in today’s tech industry so that they are fully prepared to, participate, contribute, and identify but not internalize dysfunctions in the workplace. More importantly, everyone in the workplace regardless of the industry should be empowered to use their voices for good to influence and confidently assist their employers in making positive iterative corrections within the workplace on a daily basis.
Registered Apprenticeships are a proven strategy for helping businesses grow their own skilled workforce through a combination of customized and rigorous on-the-job training and related classroom instruction. As an industry thought leader, The Bee2Bee Network Registered Apprenticeship Program plans to lead the way by helping today’s technology-based companies balance their technology development goals and their workforce development objectives via the prioritization of a healthy, efficient, people-oriented, and collaborative ecosystem in today’s New World of Work.
As a former Senior Consultant, National Agile Practice Lead, Executive Coach, and Corporate Trainer for the world’s top technology consulting firms and corporations, from Deloitte to Tata – (onshore to offshore), I chose the “Bee” as a symbol for my consulting firm because Bees are naturally collaborative in nature. Their strong team-based work ethic represents the epitome of a true Agile Software Development Team because Bees work together and their efforts ultimately serve to benefit our ecosystem. As a consultant, I have witnessed and corrected the “daily waste” of financial resources and human capital in many of the top tech-based firms in the country which ultimately led to my calling to start teaching a new generation how to develop software efficiently. The Bee2Bee Network Apprenticeship Program is my contribution to an industry that I truly love.
This innovative Registered Apprenticeship Ecosystem was designed to ensure that our Apprentices remain sharp and prepared to fairly compete for new opportunities both locally and globally. More, importantly, our wish for our Apprentices is that they stay curious, work smart and become assets to themselves and their families first, their communities second, and ultimately to the companies to which they choose to truly commit their time and talents. We are confident that we have provided them with the best-in-class learning experience and a full understanding of the meaning of true collaboration by doing.
Over the past decade, I have observed a significant parallel between the current state of the Honey Bee and that of tech workers in The New World of Work. Both are facing a significant challenge to their existence. While scientists are still studying the threat of extinction for Bees, The New World of Work is not without its looming threats of career burnout and career death for Workers across the many evolving tech-based industries. Ironically, both scenarios have the ability to bring our world as we know it to a screeching halt and possible extinction if ignored.
While we empathize with the 50% of Twitter’s employees and the recent 11,000 from Facebook that is now unemployed, we must consider that there is much more to this story on both sides. Like the saying regarding relationships, “what goes on behind closed doors”, similarly what is happening behind the closed doors of today’s tech companies resembles a modern-day relationship breakup via text or the new term “quiet quitting”. Although these behaviors are not as transparent to those outside of the technology industry, it appears to be very deceptive, impersonal, and inconsiderate regardless of whether it is employer or employee.
Personal and professional relationship breakups can both become very messy but for a corporation, a certain level of decorum should always be maintained. The right thing for both parties should be to sit down and have an honest and real discussion or what we call a retrospective in the software development industry. This approach is designed to ultimately provide both parties with constructive feedback and possibly the necessary closure to learn, grow and begin the next sprint of their life and/or project. In the 90s this concept was called providing outplacement services for layoffs because it was a fair, respectful, and humane way for both parties to move on amicably.
According to The Verge, Twitter’s layoff process varied, and some managers were asked to submit to Musk’s team two sentences about all their direct reports: one sentence explaining what the employee did, and one sentence justifying their continued employment at Twitter. As an experienced executive consultant, I was very concerned with this approach as this should be a daily exercise for both employers and employees in all tech companies that are truly creating business value.
They say that you can tell the quality of a relationship by how it ends, and this process in itself explains why Twitter was failing before Elon Musk acquired the company and possibly why it is in grave danger of failing if swift corrections are not made by both management and employees. Twitter’s managers should have suggested an alternate solution to Musk’s Team if they were practicing a collaborative software development methodology.
In all fairness to Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey, it is my estimate that Twitter’s 50% layoffs by Elon Musk could have easily been as high as 75% and represents a symptom of a toxic ecosystem that was long overdue for a correction. From my experience, this ecosystem was built on outsourced offshore talent and held together by U.S. teams with rubber bands, gum, and fraternity-like relationships of social privilege, a hyped tech market, and a tiny percentage of those that actually “do the work”. Just imagine MC Hammer and his famous entourage dancing to “Too legit to Quit“. Lol! If the software industry was more diverse, that is what it would look like. While MC Hammer was dancing his tush off, you can see a few good backup dancers, but the rest are supporting posers simply there for effect and/or to complete the artistic interpretation of the video. This is the world in which most technology CEOs exist and the only way that the team will change is if leadership changes literally or figuratively. Every attitude and/or dysfunction starts at the top and the CEO is always 100% responsible. It is that simple.
Efficient workers and slackers beware as this is just the beginning because many technology companies and IT departments today are living in a bubble that resembles a modern-day branded Stepford Wives’ country club and fiefdom. Yes, the attire is different, but the basic ecosystem is the same.
What does this mean? This frat-style relationship-based culture of yesterday still prioritizes not what you know but whom you know and has allowed many technology companies to create a divisive offshore sub-culture where a very small percentage of those that actually “do the real work” is dangerously imbalanced. Like today’s Instagram influencers, many senior managers simply look and act the perceived part and are literally paid to just “manage the herd”. This management style is often called “Command and Control”. For example, I challenge anyone to find a senior manager in any tech company who can hands-on, develop a basic website application from scratch on their own.
Yet many of these managers are trusted to provide fair and transparent performance reporting as they ineptly attempt to manage complex projects and teams of software developers. Fortunately, this post-industrial management style does not work in today’s technology industry and companies that continue to operate this way will continue to burn through money and silently fail until it is apparently too late. For many workers in this toxic ecosystem, the fear factor is too great to speak up and that is why the truth regarding who is doing what is hidden from senior management until the last responsible moment or maybe not. The fact that Twitter is rehiring employees confirms my suspicions. I am sure some of those managers also did not honestly share who the real workers were or their own shortcomings with Musk’s team.
Once this unsustainable corporate culture/ecosystem is built, the company’s future technological progress is forever stunted. There is also little room for innovation because most middle and senior managers on this gravy train have been conditioned to lose their ambition to keep innovating. Like many government bureaucracies, the excuse becomes, “but we have always done it this way”. Apprentices entering the industry should be forewarned not to gauge their careers solely on the level of the technical or social maturity of the companies that they work for and that they are ultimately responsible for developing their skills and repertoire of projects which will both inspire and challenge them over the course of their careers.
Surprisingly, many, but not all of these middle managers are now women which are placed in a position of power by passive-aggressive or simply passive male executives. Many of these new female managers’ management styles make Harvey Weinstein look like Prince Charming. Their dysfunctional and psychologically damaging management styles resemble that of a desperate housewife comedy-drama soap opera series as their subsidized existence and inflated salaries become their elitist identities. Many form special interest groups and organizations to further solidify their fake credentials and they continue to stay in packs to support each other for the lifetime of their careers and will use slander as their modus operandi. It is not until a lawsuit or scandal that the executive team may acknowledge this dysfunction but by then the damage is done to the ecosystem and it is often too late.
An unsuspecting novice may be invited to give a talk or interview by one of these adult mean girls only to find that it is an opportunity to have their ideas stolen and reproduced among their network. I once had a very prominent international financial media firm fly me to their headquarters in New York under the guise of an interview only to arrange an international video conference where their managers attempted to paraphrase a few specific management challenges that they were experiencing. Each manager then demanded that I give them a silver bullet solution on the spot without a consulting fee. You can easily spot these companies and individuals by just asking anything remotely technical as they will not be able to answer your questions but will instead find a worker to answer your questions.
I have spent my entire career working with technology companies in many different industries whose software development teams unwittingly became prisoners of their own self-made elitist ecosystems. Many were able to self-correct over time but it was a very long and arduous process. The executive management teams in these companies sometimes resemble a husband that complements his wife for being a wonderful homemaker as he bankrolls a full staff of maids, cooks, and nannies. He might be aware that his wife is rude and condescending to the help but he looks the other way as his passive actions confirm his belief that the end justifies the means. The gist of the story is, someone else is doing the real work but then again it is all based on perception.
Fortunately, in the New World of Work, real leadership skills, technical skills, and hands-on experience are the new social leverage, especially in today’s, economy where companies do not have any choice but to recognize these facts as their bottom lines finally tell the truth. For example, in a recent study, Salesforce Research surveyed over 1,500 business professionals on values-driven leadership and workplace equality. Among other findings, they discovered that when an employee feels heard, that person is 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform to the best of their abilities.
Jack Dorsey is probably a nice guy as he publicly admitted that he grew the company too quickly. According to CNBC, as of June 30, 2013, shortly before the social media company went public, Twitter had approximately 2,000 employees, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. By the end of last year, the company reported more than 7,500 full-time employees.
Elon Musk should be applauded for rescuing a company where there was a strong possibility that 75-90% of employees would have eventually been let go based on the performance of the company which was reportedly losing $4 million a day!
The big questions here are; how is it possible that these employees were not aware that the company was losing millions of dollars daily and if not, why were they coddled into believing that they would have jobs if the company was not successful? Should technology companies start giving their workers equity in the company to ensure their commitment to profitability and transparent dialog as to how the company is really performing or should employees form a union to protect their livelihood from literally disappearing overnight without adequate warning?
Like any fair break-up, there should be equitable consideration for both parties, and 3-months’ severance in this economy right before the holidays, does not provide reasonable consideration. In retrospect, considering the billions of dollars that were on the table for the initial acquisition of this deal, a better deal should have been negotiated by Jack Dorsey that would have taken care of the many employees that were going to be let go. I estimate that he must have known that Elon does not coddle and that downsizing was inevitable. Like any amicable parting of ways, respect and consideration should be a priority. At the end of the day values and principles are everything.
Getting back to relationships, as in society, the tech industry has created an elitist “relationship-based hierarchy” culture which consists of those that are “friends” and those that are considered “others” or “outsiders” who are hired to do the real work, and this includes offshore teams. The perception is that the “others” are perceived to be mere servants regardless of the six-figure salaries which are standard. To the naked eye, this culture is not very clear but for those in the industry, it is overwhelmingly clear. The “isms” such as racism, and sexism still exists but that is not the only toxic dysfunction in the ecosystem.
The crux of the matter is that there is often a class system that resembles most high school social-economic structures, hence the saying that high school is forever is very true today in many tech companies. I have experienced this dynamic firsthand with my high school apprentices and I was able to facilitate many teachable and corrective moments which provided them with key tools that encouraged them to collaborate more effectively as a team. Many adults enter the workforce without this kind of guidance and/or correction thus it is important that employers are hyper-sensitive to various toxic dysfunctions which left untreated will quickly destabilize the entire ecosystem of the company.
The History Of A Dysfunctional Ecosystem/Industry
FACT: The Most Successful Apprenticeship Programs Was Based On The Badly Executed Technology Outsourcing Initiatives Of the Mid To Late 90’s To Offshore Teams Around The World!
How did we get here? There is only one word that seems to be a common denominator in today’s New World of Work dysfunctions– Relationships and/or lack thereof. For Bees, there are a series of known and unknown conflicts regarding their relationship to their natural ecosystem. For today’s tech-based workers, the most significant source of disruption in this post-industrial ecosystem started festering as early as in the 90s and is now a prominent and loud toxic dysfunction within the New World of Work.
In the mid to late 90s, large corporations began to outsource their projects internationally and claimed that they could not find talent in the U.S. That was a lie because rather than just upskilling their current employees and promoting from within, many companies decided to basically outsource their entire software development departments to offshore companies around the world simply because it was an easier solution rather than doing the real work.
I had the woke experience of managing many offshore teams for projects which most U.S. college students and graduates should have been hired to complete. This deal was not good for offshore workers either. Many were forced to work unreasonably long hours and live in cramped hotel rooms in the U.S. for significantly less compared to what American workers were earning. American companies crossed the line by also hiring offshore recruiters to recruit talent in the U.S.! To this day, I still get daily or weekly emails from offshore recruiters trying to recruit me or sending me a list of talent that is available to work. Most of the talent has over 5 years of experience or more and is based offshore or here in the U.S. yet many U.S. schools are still promising their naive students and their parents that they will be able to compete in today’s global tech market after graduation with zero formal experience.
As a senior consultant, I was once recruited for a project in California and offered a six-figure opportunity with a contract only to discover that the contract was basically drafted in India and any concerns would have to be brought to an Indian court of law although the client was a very well-established American healthcare company which I would be consulting for.
Many managers who outsourced their software development projects in the late 90s simply did not want to learn or understand the new Internet technologies which were entering the corporate market. As a result, they gave up and signed off on purchase orders which basically funded the largest apprenticeship initiative in history for many offshore companies. Did those apprenticeships work? Absolutely! However, today’s offshore companies no longer provide cheap work, and most are very profitable multi-billion-dollar empires while American workers regularly face layoffs in the tech industry if the economy hiccups. The fact is that many established U.S. technology companies and startups are still learning how to develop software affordably and efficiently. For example, we now hear of the hundreds of millions of dollars that are raised for these new tech firms but in reality, 50% of those funds will be wasted as many try to figure out how to build the applications and simultaneously scale their teams.
Facebook, with over a 700B loss to date, is a testament to the fact that a large budget does not guarantee the success of an application once it is released into the market. The core values and principles of the company ultimately will determine its success. In addition, the large backlog of unfilled high-earning opportunities which are currently empty in the tech industry is proof that tech-based apprenticeships are now more important than ever. Still, we continue to put disloyal, unqualified, and uninformed men and women in positions of gatekeepers and leadership in the technology industry.
In reality and truth, in the beginning, and even today, many offshore projects cost U.S. firms double because of the basic cultural and language barriers. Can you imagine how our economy and citizens would have benefited today if Americans were granted the apprenticeships which were afforded to offshore teams in the 90s instead of the student loan burdens which were given for training programs from the many now-defunct tech schools like ITT? These facts have been swept under the rug for decades while countries like India, China, and even Minsk have evolved to become the new leaders in the technology industry rather than mere outsourced “workers”.
The software development industry is perfect for apprenticeships because everyone constantly learns by doing. Like Hollywood, in the tech industry, you are only as good to the market as your last project. Many loyal employees in the tech industry are simply phased out of the industry based on the technology investments which their companies have made or the roles they have chosen in the industry. I recently spoke to an amazing college professor which came highly recommended by my apprentices who took her class. She shared with me that although she enjoys teaching many different software languages, she never had the “real world” experience of working on different projects and welcomed working with The Bee2Bee Network Apprenticeship Program.
All Registered Apprenticeship Programs now provide apprentices with a new credential that is endorsed by the Department of Labor which functions like a diploma that verifies an apprentice’s competency level and experience. However, there are many new tech-based apprenticeship programs on the market now therefore, it is important to evaluate each program for its long-term and short-term merits as the overall quality of these apprenticeship programs may vary.
The key benefit for apprentices including college students and graduates that enter the Bee2Bee Network Apprenticeship Program before they enter the industry is that they are introduced to a carefully choreographed Software Development Center of Excellence and an environment that was designed to accelerate their professional development within the industry. Each apprentice is individually accessed and constantly challenged to find his or her passion and expertise first and is given the tools, resources, and projects which are designed to push their curiosity and talent to the next level. For example, all hands-on related training is provided “in-house” and software, project server space, etc., are all provided at no cost.
The program also introduces new apprentices to the tech industry as early as their high school junior year. Apprentices are able to obtain industry competency levels equivalent to four consecutive years of industry experience by their college graduation. Those that choose not to go to college, can also obtain the same competency levels and industry experience in addition to college credits which they also paid to learn as part of our innovative partnership program with forward-thinking schools such as New College of Florida and Clark University, of Worcester, MA, new Tech Quest Program which is focused on the best interest of our apprentices during and after their college careers. Apprentices are paired with employer sponsors after intensive related training during, and after the program based on their genuine career interests. This Bee2Bee Network Apprenticeship Program is the first apprenticeship program of its kind in the country and offers a program in Metaverse Software Development and Emerging Technologies which provides skillsets that are currently in high demand in the tech industry. Our Apprentices are also encouraged to work on their own entrepreneurial projects, and/or donate their time to new apprentices for the lifetime of their careers.
This is a luxury that most tech employers do not have the time, expertise, or resources to provide their employees. We recommend that every technology company should send their prospective new hires to the Bee2Bee Network Apprenticeship Program for an orientation at minimum before a serious offer is made. We guarantee it would ensure a quality hire and save them from the nightmare of future mass layoffs. Moreover, today’s traditional workforce solutions including unemployment are also outdated and do not support the evolving needs of the rapidly growing tech industry.
In the 90s companies like Microsoft did an amazing job of empowering their software development teams and the workforce to learn their new software applications while also creating many entrepreneurial opportunities in the technology market for new software start-ups and training companies. These companies are still doing very well today. I will always be grateful to Bill Gates and Microsoft for introducing me to an amazing learning and work environment at the very beginning of my career that also inspired me to create The Bee2Bee Network Apprenticeship Program.
Like a leading fashion house, today’s modern software development ecosystem should resemble a leading European Luxury Fashion Maison. There should be competent and confident artisans that represent their respective chosen areas of expertise, all working together with pride and passion toward a grand sprint. Their work product should be tested before release, offer optimal awe and business value to their clients and there should be specific demo shows on a regular basis.
I am very concerned about what I am seeing with many new software companies today which have taken a foothold into many corporate clients’ profit centers and are constructively discriminating by selecting specific groups in the market with which they will share their technologies and support. Many are simply alienating their student and entrepreneurial users who are creating unique content with their tools. I also see this growing trend from all industries when it comes to collaborating on Metaverse projects.
This is very dangerous because these software companies are double-dipping and hijacking the market from start-ups and content producers. To address this issue, The Bee2Bee Network actively procures software licenses and support from our software partners so that our apprentices will have the access and support that they need to these software tools at no additional cost.
Many minorities and women of color are still given respect or equal access to venture capital because of the false perception of what a legitimate software developer or technology CEO should look like.
I have personally experienced this bias. For example, the Bee2Bee Network’s Apprenticeship Program’s, project arm, LifeStyles In 360 which was created to fund the non-profit, launched an innovative real estate platform a few years ago with a new app in partnership with an internationally known celebrity Golfer’s luxury real estate brand. I grew up hearing this famous golfer’s name in boardrooms and in the executive dining rooms of my clients. He was the Tiger Woods of his time and I was sure that our Unicorn was going to be a big hit on the market as our launch time was almost a year before the Metaverse was announced. As the first virtual real estate platform in the United States, we secured a 30+M exclusive contract based on this celebrity’s Real Estate brand and the project was also featured on Golf Channel only to discover that his team was attempting to duplicate our efforts in the U.K. with a rival real estate and tech firm. To date, our LifeStyles In 360 platform is now only able to present 10% of our technological capabilities until this matter is resolved in a court of law.
This was a very sobering experience because, during the beginning of my career in my early 20s, I also experienced what it was like to be a hidden figure doing most of the work on many multi-million-dollar projects only to be seen but not heard by senior management which benefited greatly from my work. Apparently, the old-school dysfunctional ways of doing business by many are slow to die and I am very thankful that the internet and social media now make any deception in business or personally very hard to hide. It is important that our apprentices and future entrepreneurs are also supported legally and made aware of the truths that exist in the tech industry which entail both positive and potentially negative scenarios therefore, the Bee2Bee Network also provides complementary in-house legal counsel for our apprentices as they work on their entrepreneurial pursuits.
I realized my personal power and the importance of diversity in the software development process and industry only after starting my own consulting firm at 23 years old and teaching at New York University part-time. It was then that I was recruited to establish the first Agile Software Development Practice for Deloitte’s new E-Center in New York’s World Financial Center. As an industry expert, I wrote and presented a 200+ page book along with a team of all men at the time and we managed to seal the practice’s first multi-million-dollar deal with JP Morgan. The Software Development Methodology which I introduced to the firm reassured our client that Deloitte’s new software development practice would develop their software on time and on budget. The Deloitte E-Center practice is now a very successful billion-dollar international practice.
Based on my experience, the concept of teaching “coding” to isolated groups especially youth based on gender, color or ethnicity is wrong because true collaboration is learned and facilitated by doing. All schools and programs should create “real world co-ed” and diverse project-based learning environments where dysfunctional behavior can be observed and corrected before young adults enter the workforce. Teaching young adults how to work together in a collaborative environment where all voices are heard and everyone is respected should be a #1 priority for all schools today. More importantly, today’s siloed approach by many organizations does not teach nor develop the very important skillset of collaboration with others that share different personal values and principles, a skill which is very important in life, any workplace, and especially in the global tech industry.
Today, I see the same dysfunctional approach to our software development apprenticeship program by important gatekeepers that have been given great fiduciary responsibility for the future of a very important industry and for the equitable development of our workforce. For example, the DOL has partnered with Indian offshore companies for its core software infrastructure and has awarded these offshore companies with multi-million dollar grants to serve as apprenticeship intermediaries. This approach poses a significant conflict of interest for many new innovative apprenticeship initiatives and sponsors. Many offshore companies’ loyalties are to their offshore corporations and governments which have funded and continue to fund their very existence and expansion. In addition, many of these firms have brazenly claimed minority grants, received SBA minority certifications, and loans that should have been awarded to American-based minority organizations and all at taxpayers’ expense.
Everyone is quick to acknowledge China as a formidable competitor in the technology space but we should also acknowledge that the large tech corporations in India and Pakistan are really the industry trojan horses of our times. Competition is good for any industry however this form of competition is different because there is a significant hometeam advantage when an individual is competing against another individual based on sheer skill versus the agenda and resources of a foreign tech corporation which ensures that their employees are fully prepared to unfairly dominate the industry.
The best scenario would have been accomplished if offshore companies were fairly engaged to collaborate with American companies as equals. Then both would have significantly benefitted in the long run by the facilitated exchange of both cultural and professional work ethics. Software development project outputs would have had a more sophisticated level of collaborative development and there would have been a fair exchange of just-in-time technical knowledge which would have exponentially increased in overall quality of the entire technology ecosystem.
Outsourcing has also introduced a severe form of colorism and sexism to the tech industry which is almost never articulated but is very prevalent among software development teams. As in any thriving ecosystem or relationship, there has to be a healthy balance of respect and give and take. The technology industry operates best for all actors if it is an ethically moderated, balanced, and globally collaborative ecosystem.
For example, I have personally experienced scenarios where male Indian offshore ex-pats, have been blatantly rude and failed to respect or acknowledge women as professional equals, especially women of color in leadership positions in the workplace. This is often a cultural issue as with many cultures here in the United States and around the world because of how women are often perceived in society in general. However, this is a significant toxic dysfunction in any workplace and should be acknowledged and immediately corrected because all workplaces regardless of the industry, should provide an equal and fair environment for all to work collaboratively and fairly compete.
The failure of all Americans to recognize the tech industry as the driving force in our present and future quality of life as we know it is a very big mistake. Technology-related training and education in the form of government-sponsored Apprenticeships are imperative to drive change. The concept of simply “outsourcing” an entire industry based on an elitist, ignorant, and or simply lazy work ethic is extremely irresponsible for all parties involved and for the future of our global ecosystem/industry. The perception of cheap labor across all industries ignores the fact that everyone pays the price in the end. More importantly, it can be fairly argued that this practice is simply socio-economic genocide which rivals the urgency of our current global warming initiatives.
To address this issue, The Bee2Bee Network Apprenticeship Program is creating a global council to encourage transparent collaboration between apprentices, and employers which will be addressing apprenticeships as a global solution to aid the global challenge of upskilling to accommodate the rapid growth of today’s emerging technologies.
For National Apprenticeship Week, we have started this initiative in Paris, France where we recently spoke with Stanislas de Quercize, former President & CEO of Montblanc France, Cartier France, and Cartier USA, Richemont France, and Van Cleef & Arpels International who shared his insights on the luxury industry and apprenticeships. Mr. Stanislas de Quercize also agreed that “Training and Apprenticeships are vital and essential as we need to move from a society of consumption to a society of Transmission!”
Today’s U.S. middle managers in government and on workforce boards, eerily resemble the managers from the late 90s that prioritized what was easy and their relationships over their responsibility to those whom they were hired to serve. Some are now very comfortably retired at the expense of today’s new consumer-driven and technically underserved workforce. The social symptoms also include the many displaced young adults from all backgrounds that are currently living in their parent’s basements, unable to buy their first homes, and are working low-earning menial jobs well into their 30s. Unfortunately, many have turned to Opioid abuse or crime out of sheer desperation and hopelessness as the oppressed minority groups of the past. This new generation was not taught the real backstory of the many high-earning career paths which were taken from them long before they were born but many suspect that something is not right. Occupy Wall Street was the beginning of the articulation of their suspicions, but they did not have the resources or know-how to change things.
For example, the local Central Florida CareerSource, Workforce Board in Orlando, Florida opted to spend $150K two years ago to develop a new apprenticeship program for carpentry called I-Build while there are already two very successful national building programs called Youth Build and Habitat for Humanity in the area. Zero funds were allocated to the only software development and emerging technologies apprenticeship program in the area. In addition, this area has a demographic with a very large percentage of underserved young adults and an expected 35% increase in software development opportunities in the next 5 years. As a result, these young adults will be given the limited option of building residential units in the hot sun across Florida instead of learning how to build software. Orange County, Florida also has a severely disproportionate percentage of poor whites and unemployed black males compared to other ethnicities so it is important that we acknowledge this dilemma as a human capital emergency that affects every American regardless of ethnic background.
The sad truth is that many of these apprentices will not be able to afford to live in these new developments which they are building as they are being built for the use and enjoyment of tourist investors. In addition, after the buildings are completed, these young builders will be unemployed once again and return to the workforce board desperately looking for any work that they can get. This is great job security for the Central Florida Workforce Board but this kind of dysfunctional ecosystem will lead to mass technically unskilled unemployment which ultimately devastates families and communities.
We can ask the Workforce Boards, CEOs, and workers when a mass unemployment event takes place; Did you see this coming? For those in the know, the answer is always Yes, however many of these managers continue to choose the easiest path of less resistance. The question is, how do we hold ourselves accountable as part of this ecosystem? Where are our nationally recognized software-building programs?
I met with the local workforce board COO, several months ago and she and her grant writer wanted me to give her a detailed summary of our program including proprietary information regarding our business model although as a Registered Apprenticeship, our program curriculum and documentation is fully available online for all government workforce development agencies to view. Our initial discussions were because they denied our registered apprenticeship program being listed on their training provider list for several months which is in violation of the Registered Apprenticeship rules and regulations. Their silent tag team communication style reminded me of Wilma and Betty from the Flinstones. It was during our conversation that I suspected that they were speaking with me because they were writing a grant and needed our program’s information. Ironically, this is the very workforce board to which I would be submitting our underserved apprentices, such as the unemployed, disabled veterans, young adults, and minorities for WIOA grant approval. Their intentions were to fraudulently obtain federal grant funding by claiming our program as theirs and then deny our qualified underserved Apprentices WIOA funding for related training which they qualify for by law. It was a tactic that they successfully implemented almost a decade prior when we launched our first program in collaboration with this workforce board during our inception in 2011. Since then, they have consistently, and unsuccessfully tried to copy our youth program format and have failed to provide WIOA funding for our underserved minority apprentices.
For over a decade, the Bee2Bee Network Apprenticeship Program has independently provided over $3M in complimentary related training, equipment, and software for our apprentices. Ironically, our very first successful Silicon Valley Software Engineer was the son of former a CareerSource employee. This is 100% legal in Florida because Governor Jeb Bush awarded CareerSource Florida the power to operate as a Billion-Dollar clearinghouse for grants which should have been directed to programs that are actually “doing the work”, like The Bee2Bee Network Apprenticeship Program.
The current grant writing/review process in Florida is also an outdated system and a clear conflict of interest in which there are no checks and balances. In Florida, non-technical government staff is asked to read grant proposals and vote for or against tech-based apprenticeships alongside construction apprenticeships. Many of the reviewers also are government employees or workforce board employees.
For example, Florida’s PCOG grant for tech-based Apprentice Programs has consecutively awarded $1.8M for construction apprenticeships and $0 dollars for the only software development apprenticeship program in the Central Florida area including awarding several million dollars directly to universities for apprenticeship programs. An apprenticeship program in Tampa was awarded $300K just to cover their startup expenses and they did not have any apprentices. One year later, the same apprenticeship program in Tampa received $600K in grant funding and so did the I-Build program in Central Florida. Sadly, this is an excellent example of a very bad ecosystem in action.
The New World of Work in tech-based industries requires more than just college completion for some and multi-million-dollar start-up support for others. What about the workforce? Who is going to do the work? What about those that are unable to afford and/or are not in college, or those that do not have the means to fund their own start-ups? Are we building a subclass in tech-based industries? Absolutely! For those that are unaware, the new branding of “The Metaverse” by Facebook and The MetaCenter in Orlando, FL, means “Software Development” is now officially a leading occupation across ALL industries. Therefore, understanding of how good software is efficiently developed is now a priority for all tech-based and non-tech-based companies. For example, as we use our mobile phones or browse the internet we are actively or passively participating in a software development project somewhere.
Diversity must be a #1 priority for all tech companies. Building good software requires real collaboration and input from diverse users and development team members from ALL races, genders, sexual orientations, age groups, disabilities, and socioeconomic and religious backgrounds. The companies and employees that will excel in this New World of Work must be proactive in identifying, expeditiously denouncing, addressing, and correcting any type of bias implicit or otherwise not only because it is ethically the right thing to do but because these types of dysfunctions in any company have a butterfly effect which will threaten the ecosystem of the company, industry, and ultimately humanity.
We must also prioritize our relationships and put people first by investing in real and fair human capital initiatives such as The Bee2Bee Network Apprenticeship Program. More importantly, today’s appointed leaders from Workforce Board Presidents, DOL Representatives, Mayors, Governors, Congressmen, and CEOs to the President of the United States, have a moral obligation to do the right thing by removing all barriers to the continued investment in Human Capital for the tech industry.
We welcome Mr. Musk and the business community to partner with the Bee2Bee Network Apprenticeship Program as we will ensure a healthy and productive ecosystem for any tech-based company and industry which will continue to grow.