The problem with today's world, among many, is that people, or rather computers, rely too much on credentials. Computerized recruiting and job search programs fly through online resumes landing on certain key words like a fly on fruit salad. Those key words have to do with educational credentials, certificates, college credits, college names. Know-how may count most on the job. But when it comes to getting that job, it may take a back seat to some kind of credential that lets some computer somewhere choose you over others or provides cover for a wimpy recruiter without the ability to judge people's strengths on their own.
So why this lecture? Because yesterday the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board and Mayor Nutter announced a program to spend $14.1 million of federal stimulus on workforce training in Philadelphia. Almost half is earmarked for training programs for adults and recently laid off workers. Preference will be given to programs that yield college credits or link to college programs.
It looks like a windfall for workforce training programs. (Interested programs can link here to find out how to request some of the funding.) The key for unemployed workers will be figuring out how to tap into this funding. The best bet, it looks like, are for people entering fields such as green building and construction, advanced manufacturing, healthcare and life sciences, education and social services, hospitality, logistics and transportation.
A description of Philadelphia's plans for spending the funding will be published on the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board's web page. The board invites comment. Here's what scares me: I love funding for education. I believe in it. I see it as ripe for potential scams -- look at what has happened with the charter schools. (You can read about the latest investigation in the Inquirer this morning.) We the taxpayers are putting a tremendous amount of money into this. Let's all keep an eye out.