Posted on 5/4/2016

What we learned from TTDP: Education doesn’t stop with a diploma

Karol Friedman

Picture this: A college freshman declares her major and begins her studies as a computer programmer. Now, fast-forward four years. By the time she earns her degree, technology has changed so rapidly many of the skills she has learned are now obsolete. 

Today’s business climate is moving at the speed of light, and the prevailing opinion in workforce development circles is that our country’s skills gap cannot be closed unless we rethink the way we learn. Gone are the days where an individual can sustain a career on knowledge they acquired in their college years. Education is no longer something that ends when you get your diploma. 

This was the philosophy behind Automation Alley’s Technical Talent Development Program (TTDP). The program, which just ended its four-year run, was unlike traditional workforce development programs, which train workers but re-enter them into a pool of other candidates with similarly touched-up résumés. The TTDP model allowed for just-in-time training, where companies identified specific people they wanted — new hires and a few incumbent workers — through their own application processes, and those candidates were placed for training prior to starting the positions for which they applied. 

The program included an assessment, comprehensive classroom and online training, and mentorship and coaching, so participants gained an in-depth understanding of specific skills while on the job; the theory being that to stay relevant, today’s workforce must train nonstop. 

And, in the end, this model was a success. TTDP concluded with 1,347 local workers trained, far exceeding the program’s goal to train 715 local workers, and of those trainees, 116 have already been promoted to new positions within their companies. 

TTDP was a collaborative effort, bringing together business, education, individuals and industry partners to create positive change in Southeast Michigan through job retention and creation, helping to ensure that the region’s information technology workforce is among the most skilled in the nation. It was a unique initiative that took a different approach to workforce development, using an innovative reverse model that encouraged the hiring of under-qualified candidates who then were up-skilled through the program. And while TTDP has come to an end, there is still much to gain from studying the program’s structure and outcomes. 

More results below: 

The Technical Talent Development Program was made possible through a $5 million grant funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, and is an equal opportunity program. Auxiliary aids and services were available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

About the Author

Karol Friedman | Automation Alley

Karol Friedman is the director of talent development at Automation Alley and is responsible for overseeing all workforce development initiatives on behalf of the organization. She also leads Automation Alley’s Education and Workforce Committee and all training initiatives for Automation Alley’s Technology Center at Oakland University. 


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