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Teachers: The Wellspring Of Human Capital

Is human capital important to you and your competitive strategy?  Yes?  A good but incomplete answer.

In "Attracting and retaining top talent in US teaching" McKinsey & Company's Social Sector Practice addresses the questions of who should teach and how to attract more young people from the top tier of college graduates into the teaching profession.
"McKinsey’s survey of nearly 1,500 top-third US college students and current teachers, highlighted in the report, shows that a major effort would be needed to attract and retain the best students to teaching. The stakes are high: recent McKinsey research found that a persistent achievement gap between US students and those in top-performing nations imposes the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession."
"...the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession."  Think about it.

Then think for a moment about the SOURCE of human capital. Can you create - through training, hiring or stealing - all the human capital your organization needs now and into the future?  You can try.  You'll be in good company.  But you'll fail. Good company there, too.

If human capital matters, then so does the wellspring: schools, teaching and teachers.  Right now, I don't see any more important discussion on the national scene than the poor and declining performance of U.S. schools.

After all, how does it benefit a civilization to promise millions access to a "reformed" health system if that same civilization can't produce competent, adaptable physicians, nurses and leaders?

By now, dear readers, you both should know what's coming next.  Asking what if...?  And why not...?  What can you do?   Well, with the proper attitude of servant leadership and without waiting for conflicted taxpayers to vote for increased taxes, you could...
  • Get involved in your local schools, at all levels.  
  • Encourage your leaders to do the same.
  • Invest your time, your expertise and, maybe, some money.  
  • Teach. Yes, you.  Get in front of a class.  You'll learn quickly which of your ideas are respect-worthy and which are crap.
  • Offer - and pay for - scholarships for outstanding students.  
  • Pay bonuses to outstanding teachers.  Name the bonus program after a distinguished physician.  S/he'll love it and so will the school.  Fund it from your PR budget.
  • Create fellowships for promising young people willing to return and contribute.
  • Establish internships, not just for clinicians. Paid, unpaid, it doesn't matter.  Just introduce kids to possibilities and let ambition take over.
  • Begin recognition programs for the best and brightest.
  • Devote time to mentoring programs.
  • Start an alumni program, keeping track of your own former employees and graduates.  Need to hire?  Start with the list of who you know.
Above all, change your mindset.  If you see it as just another hit to your expense budget, you've already lost the battle.  These are investments in your own future, not expenses.  Call it your "Human Capital Survival Budget."

Send me your ideas and additions to the list.  Let me know what you're trying and the results.  E-mail ( or leave a comment.

More ramblings about human capital here;


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