PDC President’s Report Spring 2016
By Larry Elle, PDC President
All is well with the PDC, and all is constantly in change.
That phrase perhaps best describes what running a non-profit educational organization is like in today’s economy. Our organizational life parallels in many respects the life of those struggling to stay above water in today’s turbulent economy. Individuals are faced with the growing demands of a “gig” economy, where work is short, insecure and not especially lucrative. Contract work, downsizings and outsourcing increasingly characterize the labor market while at the same time there is a vibrant “innovation economy” that is reshaping the economic landscape. Today there are the “haves” and “have nots.” A new way of working (and periodically not working) is emerging while a “cultural lag” holds back the social supports that would make the innovation economy more livable for those affected by it.
It’s in this cultural and economic context that the Professional Development Collaborative was born. We emerged during the Great Recession to answer the demand for a higher skilled labor force, yet a labor force not encumbered by massive debt. Our mission is to provide affordable, low-cost training to speed people’s return to work. We are apostles of lifelong learning and ultimately would like to see education as a free public good, available to those in need and not limited to those with deep pockets. Free education would be a boon to the public and even more so to all those companies that say they can’t find people with the skills they need.
The PDC is sustained by volunteer labor, and through our volunteers’ contributions, we’ve been able to provide affordable professional growth workshops to the thousands who have taken our courses. Each year we have grown the number and quality of our workshops using industry experts to teach our courses.
Two ways we are working to stay viable is through our ongoing partnerships with Massachusetts career centers and with programs like the federally funded Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Our training expertise meets the training needs of this state’s many unemployed and older workers as well as today’s working professionals seeking to grow their skills.
We are also looking for an enlarged and attractive training space, handicapped accessible and air conditioned. One current possibility is that a major Boston real estate management company will provide us with free space. Cross your fingers. We’re also starting to write grants (any volunteers out there?).
Another project to serve the needs of employed and unemployed is to provide Linkedin head shots for a modest donation. One of our volunteers, Bimal Nepal, a professional photographer, has offered us his services to help others in need.
The Professional Development Collaborative is part of the innovation economy. We emerged as a vehicle to meet today’s career need for lifelong learning, minus massive debt. By providing affordable professional training we help people and businesses succeed. We ask you to join us in achieving our mission.