Tag Archives: Economics

Finding a Job/Career Fit for the Future

With the job market changing people aren’t sure what jobs are even available now, what skills are needed, or where to look for living wage work. Students, laid off workers, management, and people starting or re-entering the job force are frustrated, confused, and feel beaten down.

Companies/employers seek quality, diverse, happy employees with a variety of skill sets. They want to get the right employee fit the first time, saving time, energy, and money.

I recently put some thought into workable and doable solutions for homelessness. Now here’s my ideas to better address matching people and jobs/careers:

  1. (YouTube) series highlighting new and established quality jobs available right now
  2. (Online) job matching game with searchable data base/website

The YouTube Job Series/Channel would feature new and established jobs that are available right now. Each job/segment would highlight job responsibilities, company benefits, what the company/job is looking for socially/motivationally in an employee, short interviews of people who LIKE their job saying why they like it, what training is provided, the future the company offers to employees, and how/where to apply for the job. This series could be used not only by individuals doing job searches at home, but also by human resource departments, public relations teams, schools, re-training centers, prisons, and more. Being that it is public and on YouTube it can be accessed by those searching at home, in libraries, and can be shared on social networks. Workers could better self-select jobs they will personally enjoy, and feel confident applying for jobs and industries they – after watching the video(s) – now better understand. Employers who create videos of each type of job can easily share job openings, giving an easy and shareable way to attract the right person for their job. In one step the un/under-employed job seekers’ stress level is eased…and employers have better access to a quality job force of interested and qualified people. I would love to help craft the over-all template/questions/content that can be replicated by organizations big and small (possibly using iphones and desktop publishing to make it cost effective). Completed videos and job opening information could be emailed to the channel for upload and inclusion to their jobs database/website.

The Online Job Matching Game could be similar to current facebook games (i.e. the Disney Princess match ups), but instead of only focusing on job history and education, the jobs game could also have questions that help focus your social/psychographic interests. Let’s say you are an extrovert – you may thrive as a cashier or in direct sales because you get to talk to different people all day long. If you are an introvert you might thrive stocking shelves or working in close-knit small teams. The game could help suggest options where you would socially and emotionally thrive, and then match you with videos that show what a person does on the job(s) suggested, the personality traits that work well with this job, the benefits and training offered, etc. So the online jobs game would help you see how your current and past skills could cross over into other/new jobs. If you had the option to save each search, then try again and add new skills to this same online game, you could re-play it and get more options for jobs in the future…plus it would sure be nice to only have ONE resume/portfolio/game to fill out, and let the algorithms figure out what information is needed to apply to each job.

By Barb Hughes

Homeless Housing Of The Future

I’ve never been homeless. I think it would be important to ask homeless people what THEY want before we start building things or spending more money, or sending them off to prison somewhere.

The reason I say that, is I know one woman – who HAS a job and a cat – who was priced out of her apartment and she was living in a tent in a friends’ backyard over the winter. What she needed was an apartment in Portland that didn’t raise the rent above the salary she could afford and that allowed pets. So the person I knew who was homeless didn’t need a lot of fussing…she just needed a wage and housing that matched…which had matched no problem until the landlords decided to up their pricing to compete with the fancy new buildings being built.

Currently she’s living in an art studio downtown. I wonder with all the air bnb people, if there could be a similar website that could match up compatible people to rent rooms in homes? Again, the homeless person I know is a normal person, with a job, a pet, who actively volunteers her time in the community, etc. who could be your neighbor. How many homeless are like this? Why don’t we find out by asking them, and letting them help create a solution for them that matches, say, elderly homeowners with cats and a boarder with cats, where the boarder not only pays rent, but can help around the house? Building community, instead of creating an ‘us/them’ paradigm of ‘look at those homeless people – can’t we just sweep them, blow them up, or cart them off so we don’t have to look at them?’

Yes, some people might need more helps than others, but at least one leg of the situation is individuals and families that have jobs, have a community around them, but for whatever reason (raised housing costs without a raise from their employer? Unexpected medical bills? A new baby? A death of the main breadwinner? Investments disappearing that they were living off of? Job loss? Parents getting new jobs across the country but the high school teen wanting to finish out his/her senior year etc.) the money they have doesn’t match the housing they are in. Sometimes this is only temporary. To keep a person/family in their familiar neighborhood while they get the money matched up to their living situation seems like it would be easier to get a footing back up with minimum displacement.  And how can we make this a mutual helping, instead of shaming?  How can it be cost effective, where the person looking for a home, and the person who has space, can mutually help each other?

Another affordable housing idea that might work as a collaboration between businesses, government, and renters, is to work out a collaboration where the working tenant pays no more than 25% of their gross monthly salary towards their rent, with the stipulation that they also contribute a talent or skill that benefits the other renters.  Examples could include an accountant could lead a monthly money management seminar to interested tenants (and guests?), a grocery worker could bring leftover packaged or nearly expired food to share with tenants,  a young mother could hold a monthly clothing and toy exchange amongst tenants.  This gifting of abundance from tenants would create added community benefit, helping to mutually uplift all tenants not only financially but emotionally, and helping to lessen dependence on overworked government social services.  As tenants get pay raises or move to higher wage jobs, their percentage paid towards rent would raise as well.  As tenants make new like-minded friends and as their pay raises, they may decide to move out of this housing and into other non-subsidized housing, thus freeing up the space for new tenants.  This would help retain quality employees for low-wage area businesses, and the businesses could write off the percentage of rent not covered by their employee paycheck as a tax write-off/employee benefit.  The city could contribute by allowing already built apartment complexes in various neighborhoods close to the businesses to be utilized for this venture.  This way no new buildings need to be planned and built, saving time and money.

One of the things my friend told me was she was thinking of fixing up a truck and living out of that, so at least she’d have a safe mobile place for her cat and herself, where all her stuff was safe and she could lock it etc. The living small movement is afoot, partly because some people are tired of owning too much stuff, but partly because people can’t afford to store stuff/move stuff and because housing prices are so high. So maybe another option would be affordable trailer parks where people can live within their means, leave when they want to and take all their stuff with them if they get a new job or new opportunity? Just trying to brainstorm options where people feel they have a bit more control then being forced/herded like cattle by people/government officials who haven’t even talked to them.

People support that which they help to create. People who for -whatever reasons- can’t currently afford housing should be part of the leadership team in planning local homeless housing options, job training options, new innovations etc.  I would think that if I were homeless, I’d have to know /learn all kinds of survival hacks (necessity is the mother of invention).  We should be utilizing the brainpower of those who know what it’s like to be homeless, in helping to create the most cost effective, mutually helpful for society, community building affordable living situations.  And who knows?  The businesses who partner with experienced homeless people might create a whole new world of marketable invention$.

By Barb Hughes

Affordable Housing for Seniors and Young Adults

Finland leads the way with another innovative idea: seniors and young adults enjoy affordable housing  – and an enriching community experience.

Four Steps To Economic Recovery

The news is full of articles trying to figure out a way to save America:  how to bring back the middle class, create jobs, help stop the disparity between the few rich at the top and the majority falling (or fearful of falling) toward poverty, and what to do about increasing homelessness and food insecurity.  American society seems gripped in fear, as many young people wrestle with college debt and little or no living wage work prospects.  Middle managers in their 40’s/50’s/60’s have been downsized/laid off, and haunt monthly job fairs featuring door-t0-door commission sales work (to try to reach those who don’t want to open their doors to strangers and/or don’t have money/need to purchase their products anyway).  An undergirding of fear is sweeping our nation just under the surface for those of wealth (and those hanging on by their fingernails to their wealth), a daily reality for many more.

The conversation is here.  People are awake and aware that this growing soup of problems are encroaching on us as a society, not just ‘the fringe others’.  This involves all of us.  Some of us who have not yet lost our job/home/health respond with self-protective denial.  Some of us in frustration and fear blame the ‘other’.  Some of us become clinically depressed and use pain medication/drink/drugs to hide.

I believe there is a practical way to turn this poverty of economy and spirit around. Here’s my idea outline for a Four Step Plan To Economic Recovery:

  1.  Living wage jobs provided by the very corporations and businesses that have taken living wage jobs away, as well as innovative business models such as B-Corporations and worker cooperatives that balance wages, community building, and benefits with profits.
  2. Mortgage companies/banks/developers et all to sell/rent housing that is affordable to wages earned in area said housing/businesses reside.  Seed Seattle is an example of an organization creating partnerships and inspiring investments in affordable housing, arts, and economic development.
  3. Medical health care that actually provides health benefit – not high priced/high deductible insurance that doesn’t cover any type of actual care.
  4. Education tied with industry jobs, so instead of graduating with a 4 year degree and $30,000-$200,000 of debt and no income/job in sight, the education/training is included in most businesses/jobs as part of the training package of said business/job. This would also be helpful for those re-entering the workforce and those who’s jobs have changed/no longer exist.

These four steps would in practical ways help turn the economy around with innovative business and industry leading the way by creating living wage jobs and incorporating training and benefits back into the business model.  Add to that affordable housing, fanning innovation, creating community building opportunities, rebuilding a middle class and giving tangible tools to bring disenfranchised into the middle class, and the result would be uplifting all of American society for a better future.

Barb Hughes 2013    Barb Hughes

Tiny Banks – A return to traditional banking (Plus, how to start your own bank!)

Tired of the hassles of big banks? Dave Fishwick brought banking back to its roots:  local banks for local people, by the community for the community.

If you’re interested in making a positive difference in your community, Dave Fishwick shows you how to open your own bank:

A Rational Response to Homelessness

Utah is tackling the homeless problem.  Their plan is already saving taxpayer money AND is improving the economy, plus they are on track to eliminate homelessness by 2015.

Medicine and Science Using Origami Algorithms

Origami algorithms are being used to create medical implants and space telescopes. I wonder if origami algorithms might be used to create the build-a-building, using plastic, wood, and mesh sheets that can be folded differently to create different shaped useful small buildings?  Learn more about this amazing new technology that combines art, science, and history in this Ted Talk.