While leaving the terminal to head home, I was thinking about a very insightful meeting I had. It was with two members of a task force making recommendations to a community about the transportation needs of the under-resourced. I and another transit patron were asked to share our views on some of their recommendations. One possible idea caught my eye... expanding training on using transit and various alternatives for getting around.
I asked what brought this on, the reason behind why a task force was formed. The response was more than intriguing. A city-wide study was done on community needs. A community, which many see as a solid American middle-income population, actually has one of the highest poverty rates in the country. With about 25% living in the poverty level, it ranked higher than Chicago, Washington D.C.. Also, there are more children in schools from families who qualify for funded school lunch programs, percentage-wise, than other small cities like this one. Transportation and housing were two other higher-ranking needs.
As I watched businesses, government buildings, houses go past me on the ride back to my place, I was wondering how could this be. One possibility came to mind.
In my early life I had a training service for businesses. Based out of this area, I sought to train employees on personal skills to be productive and efficient as people. Those of us in this profession had this view. When you develop your people in your business to be productive, you function more efficiently, you create a higher quality in your product or service. When the quality is higher you can sell it at a greater value, consequently, your profits increase.
As it turned out it was not as successful as I would have liked. My colleagues in the same profession told me this community, generally, is a soft market for training. Employers don't invest in it very much. They see it as an additional overhead cost. My colleagues encouraged me to seek business outside the area, but live here as they did. Those who did seemed to be doing well.
The spin-off factor affects the community though. People with productivity skills not only increase the value of a company's products and/or services, but it spills over into a person's lifestyles. They live more productively, building the whole quality level of the community.
Why would a seemingly nice community suffer from a high poverty level? By not investing in people productivity development in a business, profit margins are lower, and it also keeps people struggling financially which affects the whole community. A triple loss... the business, the employee and the community.
Lesson learned. No train, no gain. We reap what we sow. If we don't sow it, we won't reap it.
Communities with a business mindset of not investing in people, have communities with more under-resourced people. Thus, more live in poverty.
Communities with businesses and organizations who invest in developing their people, have stronger organizations as well as healthier and stronger communities. Thus, more live above their needs.
To me there's a correlation between the level of training and development of people in jobs and the corresponding effect it has on the well-being of the whole community. Employers who disregard developing their people in their workforce, contribute to increasing poverty in the community.
I believe a business should be profitable, but have a keen awareness of the weight of responsibility they carry on their shoulders. They should be keenly aware and responsive to the welfare of community. They should build people who can live more profitably and productively.
...Close to my bus stop. Need to pull the cord and get off here.
(As an additional note, I deliberately didn't mention the community I was referring to, as this, I feel, is relevant to all communities. Here's what a commission on impacting poverty had in its recommendations of which I agree.
"Springfield’s workforce needs greater skills."
" The Springfield region’s relatively low wages produce a situation where our community has a relatively low unemployment rate, but high levels of poverty."
See page 9: "4. Jobs and Economic Climate.")