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Jobs without preparation still equal unemployment

Every election, and political discussion in between, yields the topic of jobs; job creation, availability, and access. But, nowhere in the conversation is job readiness and preparation. People can easily get by on the promise of “bringing jobs” to the community, but what happen when those who need them most are not prepared? Nothing.

Bringing jobs already filled, as well as those which require an elevated skill set continue to elude those who have come through a failed school system or who have fallen off the beaten path somewhere along the way.  Many of those who have a history of unemployment are saddled with a severe lack of basic job readiness, which limits their ability to be considered for anything beyond manual labor or basic service roles, if even that.

Rather than continuing to cite “jobs” as demanded by some and touted by others, the conversation must lend itself to viable and available resources to help those who are undereducated and chronically unemployable.  This isn’t a political or party-specific challenge or conversation; it’s a people one.

While working to address and assist those who don’t know or have never been taught the basics principles of employment—dress, timeliness, the dos and don’ts of interviewing, and basic social and professional etiquette—this amended discussion is also a call-to-action for those in the pipeline to get it together before they end up in the seemingly endless pool of unemployment.  After all, I don’t think we talk enough about the connectivity between preparation and success.

Talking more about dollars to schools than personal commitment to education is also misleading. The best looking schools and materials mean nothing without the proper attitude and engagement. We also need to present skilled trades as an option; a respectable and well paying one, I might add.

I can only assume that those who could and should be regularly leading this public discussion won’t do so for fear of insulting or losing their support base, political or otherwise. But, without doing so they will constantly be delivering broken dreams and unrealistic promises; and providing a social service net to those who otherwise fell through the cracks these “leaders” are refusing the help properly fill.

This isn’t to say that everyone is capable of realizing the same goal, or that there will never be a segment of society that will require—and should receive—social service support. But, there are many who would benefit greatly from a realistic challenge on the front end as well as those who need supplemental support on the back end. Promising jobs for which they are unqualified to fill is neither realistic nor helpful.

As it relates to job preparation and readiness, it is way past time to change the conversation.

I don’t do late, and neither should you

Of our many assets, time is undoubtedly the most valuable. Unlike material things, it cannot be duplicated or replaced and should be respected as such. Disrespecting time—mine and yours—is the ultimate insult, and should never be an option.

I am still fuming from a recent situation, but rather than simply vent I decided to use it as a lesson for all. I had a 9:00 AM spa appointment. It’s not my usual spa, but a friend introduced me to the place in an effort to help his friend, who is the owner. I have been a couple of times; not overly impressed, but it was workable. On this morning, I arrived at 8:35 AM, and sat in my car out front answering emails and text messages. The therapist arrived at 8:40 AM, only to learn that the receptionist or person responsible for opening the spa had not yet arrived.

Now, their on-line scheduling allows for the selection of appointments and service providers, and then follows the appointment with several confirmation and reminder emails. Perhaps one should have been sent to the receptionist or person charged with opening the doors. By 9:00AM, no one had arrived, and I left. The therapist was apologetic, but it wasn’t their fault.

At 9:12AM, I get a call on my cell with the cheerful comment, “Ms. Dumas? This is ____ from ___ . We just missed you!” I responded, “No, you didn’t miss me; you were not there on time.” While she apologized, she said “We usually are here at 9” to which I told her “What you usually do has no bearing on what you didn’t do today.” She also said that it was “Still around 9.” To that, I said “I have a lot of watches and none of them say ‘around’ anything.” I proceeded to tell her that this not how a business is operated, and that there is not an excuse for being late. If she had encountered an emergency, there should have been a back-up plan and person, and the therapist at least should have been notified.

With the endless means of communicating with each other, there is absolutely no reason for anyone not to be given the courtesy if someone is running late. More importantly, if the person has planned properly, there is no reason to be late. I have a standing practice: I arrive 15 minutes early for my appointments, and refuse to wait longer than 15 minutes for someone who is late and has not called or notified me of their delayed arrival. I am responsive to calls, emails and texts and expect the same in return.

With increased competition for business at every level, it is imperative that a viable attraction and retention strategy be implemented, the basis of which is built upon being on time, responsive and delivering quality service. If you can’t do that, then take down the shingle.

My comments must have been too much, because she hung up on me. Two days later, I got an email apologizing and offering me a free massage. No thank you. I don’t want free services; I simply want the service I pay for to be delivered on time. And, I apologize if that is too much to ask.

Men Matter

As we celebrate Father’s Day, men will take a bow at center stage. Yet, it shouldn’t be just one day, but instead every day that we recognize and respect the importance and impact of men in our lives, family and community.

I recently had the opportunity to interview several men who participate in the Flip the Script program at Goodwill Industries. It’s a program headed by Keith Bennett that helps to redirect the lives of those who may have or are considering the wrong road in life. A phenomenal program, this opportunity allowed me a peek inside the lives of those who champion the benefit of having a supportive and nurturing environment and team. One common denominator of these gentlemen was that they all had issues with their fathers.

While fathers appear to socially disregarded and held nowhere near the level it seems that mothers are, their importance is slowly being recognized and rightfully respected. Their absence leaves a void that cannot be filled, and either becomes a negative template for future fathers or an example of what not to duplicate.

Leaving which option men choose is not being left to chance for Bill Middlebrooks. Rather than wait to see which path men choose, he like Bennett is offering a more positive and productive road for men to travel. In a soon to be announced partnership with the 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit and Focus:HOPE, men will be provided the tools and lessons by which they can be the fathers they are capable of becoming, in most cases better than their fathers were to them.

This is how the trend and tide are changed. There are many men in the African-American community that step up to the challenge of fatherhood. They defy the statistics and stay in the lives of their children, regardless of the relationship with the mother. A few of these men were profiled in a book published last year by Middlebrooks and journalist Leslie Gordon. “Extraordinary Fathers” highlights dads of the famous and unknown, and shows that the difference between being ordinary is simply the willingness to go the “extra” step.

There are also those men, like Bennett and Middlebooks, who have made it their life’s mission to touch and engage as many others as possible to positively impact the perception and reality of the black male and fatherhood. You don’t hear or read about them often, but they are there.

On this Father’s Day, know that there are those rooting for the men who are trying to do better, and resources for those who want to do better but just don’t know how. Don’t believe the hype that all men ignore their families and communities; sure, there are some who do but there are far more who do not. We celebrate fathers…because they matter.

For more information on Flip the Script, visit http://goodwilldetroit.org/programs/flip-the-script/; and visit https://www.extraordinaryfathers.com/  for information on the book, partnership and other fatherhood-focused resources.

Happy Father’s Day!