While this blog has rightly criticized the Greater Memphis Chamber (GMC) on workforce, there is no way the Chamber can be this bad ! No Way ! They must have powerful help. And they do from the spooner elitists and SCORE board. Its impossible to be this bad, unless even the GMC is being obstructed.
This blog will take a historical look at this cockblocking of the workforce development system, which will include a review of the entirely useless Shelby County Joint Economic Community Development Board (SC-JECDB).
Keep in mind The SCORE Board, at the end of the legislative session, took a victory lap for phonics and ACT WorkKeys. While both have their places, they are hardly an innovation and I am a WorkKeys or like tool advocate. ACT WorkKeys, assess individuals’ academic competencies against workplace criterion references and is used to build common language in support of workforce and economic development.
At the same time, and Blackjack will love this, history says that Tennessee was the first ACT WorkKeys state in the country. The implementation occurred in the 1990’s under Governor Ned McWherter and Dr. Charles Smith, Commissioner of Education. But the elitists soon killed WorkKeys while erroneously pushing a 4 yr college for all. Again WorkKeys, while a credible and needed tool, is not an innovation to take a victory lap about.
First, lets review the last presentation on workforce involving the GMC on June 17,. 2021. I am convinced the elitists are even cockblocking the Chamber, just as the elitists have done for years with the regional economy. Gwyn Fisher, Greater Memphis State Regional Economic Development Director, opens up the presentation by commending the publicly treasonous and incestuous GMC / University of Memphis partnership. Then, without any representation on the panel from 2 yr colleges, Ted Townsend launches into a UofM/Chamber outsourced Brookings data presentation on workforce, all while the UofM pursues Carnegie R1 research status. Odd……
Anyway, the data presentation correctly emphasized Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers and diversity, while without 2 yr colleges on the panel, seemed slanted toward 4 yr degrees (See page pg 14). This is unfortunate, as the labor market is paying for 2 yr degrees. Southwest CC 2 year wages are $45K and The UofM 4 yr wages are $46K. See SCORE Higher Ed By the Numbers report.
At the same time, per the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System, Shelby County completion rates languish most, due to falling 2 yr and less post-secondary completions. Using STEM program completions, as defined by the Chamber, from 2014 – 19, Above 2 yr completions increased by 64%, while 2 yr or less fell by 38%. The greatest opportunity for quickly increasing completion rates is 2 yr and less degrees. And the labor market is paying for them !
Historic All Time Spooner Cockblock
Spooner cockblocking of the workforce development system goes back years in Memphis. I suspect the cockblock started, 20 years ago, right when Memphis Tomorrow started, as this corresponds with the beginning of local ecosystem decline. And then, to make it worse, local elitists teamed up with the SCORE Board. Anyway, lets look at a timeline for this multi-billion dollar taxpayer cockblock.
2009 – As early as 2009, connecting the workforce development system was a concern. See Shelby County Joint Economic and Community Development Board (SC-JECDB minutes)
2011 – County Commission later follows the disastrous advice of Mayor Luttrell to fund Memphis Tomorrow with $1M. See SC-JECDB minutes
2014 – Co-chaired by FedEx’s Christine Richards, Memphis Tomorrow Fast Forward FOCUS Economic Development plan is launched, and includes the Greater Memphis Alliance for Competitive Workforce (GMACW) initiative
2014 – GMACW hires Dr. Glen Fenter of ASU Midsouth who supports ACT WorkKeys implementation
2015 – Spooner elitists rig a deal for Canadian provider that has little to no United States domestic experience in workforce development
2016 – Mayor Jim Strickland launches WorkKeys as a local initiative.
2016 and after – ACT WorkKeys never widely promoted and implementation fails to occur
2016 – Connected workforce development flounders and Haslam and Hyde launch Complete Tennessee initiative
2016– I join the Chamber and begin to promote my small business workforce development solution.
2016 – With small business solutions in hand and workforce development locally disconnected, I file formal complaint of concern with County Mayor Luttrell, who also sat on the GMACW Board and chaired the SC-JECDB Board. Luttrell does nothing with complaint.
2017 – Obstructed by the elitists, which is common, GMACW’s Fenter departs. (This seems to parallel the recent Dr. Damon Fleming departure from the UofM)
2017 – EDGE takes over GMACW
2017 – Complete Tennessee issues first report and states institutional ignorance of labor market in Memphis. This was a core deliverable of GMACW
2017 – I am kicked out of the Greater Memphis Chamber without cause or provision of Chamber bylaws while promoting my connected workforce development solution. As data shows, local elitists despise local small business.
2019 – Complete Tennessee folds into SCORE
2019 – In October, Chamber launches Upskill901 workforce initiative, along with with Brookings out of DC and Burning Glass from Boston.
2021 – SCORE Board takes victory lap for ACT WorkKeys legislation.
2021 – Chamber appears obstructed by the elitists.
2021 – Local disconnected workforce efforts remain.
The elitists have staying power and one has to stick with it for a while to find out what is really going on. History says, there has been a sustained and intentional effort to cockblock connected workforce development efforts in Memphis. And its not the rank and file but the spooner elitists that are botching the workforce development system. Think Blackjack, Puke, Orifice Ingram and Loser Frist.