As GSI partners with employers and members of our community to lead an effort to increase education attainment in our region, we will be featuring several guest blogs by employers in this community about the importance of raising our education standards. We hope, over time, to create a cluster of employers who will join this conversation and help lead an effort to better train, equip and educate our community’s workforce. We will be sharing ideas on how employers can lead the effort. Why? Education plays an important role in growing and transforming our economy. Here is the first installment.
Guest Blog By Tom Johnson, President & CEO, STCU
Neither my parents nor my grandparents attended college. Yet their expectations and support instilled in us the importance of education. It was an expectation — part of our family culture – that my sister and I would be off to college, no need for questions or discussion.
Today, I heard a community business leader discuss how the cry from employers has changed. He noted that the key to success for many businesses used to be “location, location, location.” Today, it is “talent, talent, talent.”
As GSI takes on an ambitious leadership role to answer the cry for “talent, talent, talent” in our community, I reflect on how significantly my own educational journey has affected my career and the organization I serve. As a business leader, I have an opportunity to share the value of training and education to all those in my sphere of influence. Actually, it is more than an opportunity; I take it as a responsibility.
So, as a leader at STCU, the core beliefs instilled by my parents and grandparents have led me to insist that we seek to have the best trained and educated staff that we can find. While technical skills and experience are important in our hiring process, we have high expectations for applicants’ training and education.
Meanwhile, our existing employees are supported in their efforts to accomplish our shared educational goals. At any given time, about 10 percent of the STCU workforce is attending college with tuition assistance. Many of our younger employees are working on associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, while some of our more established colleagues (including a couple of vice presidents) are earning master’s degrees. We also support those working toward specialized certifications through rigorous programs offered by organizations like the Credit Union National Association.
That’s a big commitment for working adults, and a big commitment for an organization. It puts proof to our words as we communicate the value of education and work to establish a culture of expectation surrounding educational attainment.
Not every business can offer tuition assistance. But could we, as employers in the Spokane region, establish a culture of expectation regarding training and education? If so, how could we do that? Shouldn’t we have a conversation about these ideas?
I believe we can and we must. We must be intentional about our expectations as employers and we must be committed to this philosophy in our hiring practices, in our benefits programs, and in our operating norms. We need to talk about this, we need to model it, and we need to help make it happen, by supporting our employees in their educational efforts.
Please join the conversation and help us create the culture of educational expectation that will help all of us realize a brighter, more robust future for Spokane.