Monthly Archives: July 2009

The Generational Cultural Divide

I love NPR. I especially enjoy the stories that take a snippet of someone’s life and use it to explain the larger social and cultural complexities of life in the United States. Claudio Sanchez shares a story of a first generation Chinese American who constantly faces the tension of balancing Chinese (collectivist) and American (individualistic) cultures. The piece focuses on education and much of it can be applied to the Hispanic culture which shares many Chinese cultural characteristics.  

The broadcast highlights important considerations in Hispanic educational and career development because Hispanics move between their culture and a dominant culture. As noted by Herr and Niles,  “…decision making, development of self-identity, and life choices do not occur in a vacuum. They occur within political, economic, and social conditions that influence the achievement images and belief systems on which individuals base their actions” (p182). The story outlines only a few factors, conditions, and complexities surrounding educational attainment and career development of Hispanics.

 Reference: Herr, E.L., & Niles, S. (1997). Multicultural Career Guidance in the Schools. In Paul Pedersen & John C. Carey (Eds.) Multicultural counseling in schools (pp.157-176). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Reality Check – Worst Hit Cities

From the BLS Press Release:

Unemployment rates were higher in June than a year earlier in all 372 metropolitan areas, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Eighteen areas recorded jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent, while 9 areas registered rates below 5.0 percent. The national unemployment rate in June was 9.7 percent, not seasonally adjusted, up from 5.7 percent a year earlier. Among the 369 metropolitan areas for which nonfarm payroll data were available, 352 areas reported over-the-year declines in employment, 16 reported increases, and 1 had no change.

Discussions to Have….Update

A few days ago, I posted some thoughts regarding a discussion going on at the National Journal’s Education Expert Blog (NJEE) regarding a NACE report  stating less than 20 percent of 2009 college graduates who had applied for a job by the end of April had one in hand. I noted that discussions like the one occuring at NJEE must occur within organizations routinely as a means to develop strategic plans that address an organization’s future talent needs.

Kevin Wheeler on his Over the Seas blog echos my thought in discussing  PricewaterhouseCoopers‘ recent study regarding CEOs and organizational talent strategy. His thoughts are intriguing but this comment was most relative to my points above:

The second reason  is that HR has not made much of a case for taking a strategic look at the workforce. At IBM, Dupont and few other organizations there has been significant progress in looking at future workforce needs and skills.  They have made extensive analysis of the current workforce and the skills it has and have mapped those skills to perceived emerging needs.

Recruiting with Culture in Mind

Over the weekend, I had a conversation with someone who works for a rather large service organization. We got on the topic of college recruiting and why it’s important to long-term succession planning and competitiveness. What struck me about our discussion was this individual’s emphasis on skill set as a determining factor in attracting potential college graduates to the organization. This person believed matching business needs and skills was an effective strategy. While knowledge, skills, and abilities are certainly important criteria in the finding college graduates, I explained that organizational culture can be just as significant. I asked him to explain the characteristics of an effective person in the organization. In other words, who is successful in your culture?

Organizational cultures characterized by a diverse environment, for example, has become an important consideration. As organizations adopt flatter structures, they have become more reliant on diverse functional teams as the basis of daily operations. A college graduate who is able to understand and work with differences is more critical today than one who is accustomed to a skills-based hierarchical organization.   

Organizational culture may also have implications for college recruitment strategies and policies. There may be a need to attract a wider and more diverse pool of applicants. Organizations may also need to consider recruitment processes, selection criteria, information given to applicants and new hires, mentoring programs, professional development, promotion processes, and performance appraisals.

Total Picture Radio

I just came across a wonderful website called Total Picture Radio (TPR).  The site provides practical views of emerging trends from thought leaders to help with talent management and career planning – all in podcast format. I did a quick search on Hispanic career trends and listened to some insightful shows. Total Picture Radio advocates filling a career advice and advocacy gap by providing the latest trends, knowledge, actionable information and resources. Guests have the opportunity to share their considerable experience and advice, without the time constraints imposed by most radio and cable television business news/information programming. It’s in-depth and free.

It's A Choice

Since beginning HTM, I’ve taken much more time to review the newspaper and media coverage of how the national and global recessions are impacting governments, industries, workers, and college graduates. There are obvious uncertainties. Graduating students have been carefully assessing the opportunity landscape before making career decisions. For graduates, many times accepting a job is a matter of survival rather than choice. A few articles I’ve found over the last few days (1, 2, 3, 4 , 5) demonstrate how some college graduates are coping with all the uncertainty and the inability to begin their career.

Often when faced with personal challenge, recent graduates have a tendency to look outside, and let what they hear and see dictate how they think and feel and thus influence the decisions that they make. They forget about their potential, their capacity to cope with change, and their ability to be innovative. New college graduates may also lose sight of their own interests and needs, and in that minute they do so, they give ownership of their own careers. Indeed, some of these articles point to unpreparedness; however, they also point to college graduates’ tenacity and resiliency — an aptitude employers continuously seek and value.

Discussions to Have…..

There’s an excellent discussion going on over at the National Journal’s Education Expert Blog area. The conversation centers on a NACE report a few months ago stating that less than 20 percent of 2009 college graduates who had applied for a job by the end of April had one in hand. The main question: are colleges doing enough to make graduates attractive job candidates? Comments range from the increasing challenge for community colleges to the role of basic economic supply and demand.

My takeaway – these types of questions and discussions need to also be had when developing or reviewing a college recruitment initiative. It means having a strategic plan in place that is able to address talent today and in the future. When conducted routinely, these type of discussions encourage new thinking and allow organizations to develop an inclusive and integrated college recruitment strategy that serves as a foundation for succession planning.

Financing the Pipeline

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) just released a report, A Profile of Successful Pell Grant Recipients.  A couple of  highlights from the study:

  • In addition, a larger percentage of Pell Grant recipients than nonrecipients came from non-English-speaking households, and a larger proportion were Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, or from other racial/ethnic backgrounds other than White. Also, a larger proportion of Pell Grant recipients than nonrecipients were women.
  • In addition, after controlling for parent’s education and racial/ethnic background, no measurable differences were observed in the median time to degree between Pell Grant recipients and nonrecipients if they were Black or Hispanic, or had parents who did not graduate from college.

I find the second conclusion above somewhat significant. The issue I have with these type conclusions is that it assumes all data, from college graduates in this case, is based on an equal footing in the system. In the case of Hispanic college students, the report does not recognize the uneven distribution of Hispanic students within the college system. The second conclusion is very broad and gives one the idea that aside from the controlled variables, all college experiences are the same. Close to half  of Hispanic college students attend only 22 institutions of higher learning (excluding Puerto Rican schools). 

Given that the dispersion of Hispanic students is concentrated in such a small number of colleges, I doubt the same results if the study were focused on HACU, HBU, or women colleges. This is an informative report but too often results that reveal the status of Hispanic, other minorities, or women college graduates evolve by studying the majority of college student experiences.

Signs of the Economic Times

A few articles from the last few days provide a snapshot of how the current recession is still impacting college recruiting. Business Week has a report on NACE’s salary report indicating wages remaining stagnant for new hires but not decreasing as compared to 2008. NACE reports less than 20 percent of 2009 grads who have applied for a job actually have one in hand. Despite the lack of jobs, most respondents say they expect to enter the job market. Perhaps so but similar to previous economic downturns, college graduates are either accepting whatever job they can get or entering grad school to ride out the recession. Both are obviously not the choices  newly degreed professionals want to make. On the other hand, PayScale reports on the college graduates that are finding jobs – not surprising.  Finally, a trend I’m seeing in my own neighborhood here in Cincinnati – graduates returning home to live with their parents.

Expanding into the Suburbs

Acxiom market services just released an interesting study regarding the expansion of Hispanics into American suburbs. The study focused on ten markets considered to be high growth areas for Hispanic suburban growth: Charlotte, NC, Nashville-Davidson, TN, Raleigh, NC, Memphis, TN, Greensboro, NC, Little Rock, AR, Indianapolis, IN,  Birmingham, AL, Minneapolis, MN, and Aurora, CO. The study classifies suburban Hispanics into four categories; however, each is likely to be comprised of second-and-third generation Hispanics.